Legal Aid Ontario: Getting help in the courtroom from Duty Counsel

0
386
Legal Aid Ontario: Getting help in the courtroom from Duty Counsel

Legal Aid Ontario – http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/ – provides eligible people with Duty counsel. Duty counsel are lawyers who can give immediate, legal assistance to low-income people who appear in court without a lawyer.

Duty counsel services are available in many courthouses across Ontario, including more than 28 remote and fly-in locations. Duty counsel assists over one million people a year.

If you have a criminal or family law issue, speak to duty counsel before your court appearance.

Legal Aid Ontario – Duty counsel services

Duty counsel assist with the following types of legal matters:

  • Criminal duty counsel
  • Family duty counsel
  • Mental health duty counsel
  • Tenant duty counsel

Legal Aid Ontario – Criminal duty counsel

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, and you have a court date but you don’t have a lawyer, criminal duty counsel may be able to assist you. In criminal cases, duty counsel advise people about the charge(s) against them and provide information about basic court procedure. You must be financially eligible for some types of duty counsel assistance.

Criminal duty counsel are lawyers who can:

  • give advice about legal rights, obligations and the court process
  • provide assistance in the courtroom for bail hearings and sentencing
  • assist with diversion, guilty pleas and adjournments

Criminal duty counsel may also provide assistance in specialized courts such as mental health, drug treatment, domestic violence and Aboriginal persons (Gladue) court. Duty counsel can also assist youth (a person who is under 18) who have been charged with a criminal offence.

Criminal duty counsel can also refer you to Legal Aid Ontario’s certificate program or another criminal law service.

Legal Aid Ontario – Family duty counsel

If you are financially eligible and have an issue such as child custody, support or access, family duty counsel may be able to assist you with advice and information about basic court procedures.

Family duty counsel are lawyers who can:

  • give advice about legal rights, obligations and the court process
  • help negotiate and settle issues
  • review or prepare court documents to be filed

Family duty counsel can also provide assistance in the courtroom with:

  • child protection hearings
  • garnishment and support hearings
  • requesting adjournments
  • arguing motions
  • hearings for issues such as custody, access, or support where the issues are not complicated

Family duty counsel can also refer you to other legal aid services.

Legal Aid Ontario – Mental health duty counsel

If you are appearing in mental health court on a criminal matter without a lawyer, duty counsel can assist you at your first appearance. After the first appearance, if you cannot apply for legal aid on your own, you can receive help in one of the following ways:

  • Through a lawyer or criminal duty counsel: Lawyers or duty counsel can request legal aid on your behalf if you are incapable of applying for it. Legal Aid Ontario will appoint a criminal lawyer with experience representing clients with mental health issues to assist you with your case.
  • With a legal aid representative or a Patient Advocate/Rights Advisor: If you are in custody or receiving treatment at a mental health care facility, you can get assistance with legal aid applications from the Patient Advocate/Rights Advisor in the mental health facility where you are located. Correctional facilities also have legal aid representatives that can help you apply.

Definitions

  • Patient advocate – Patient advocates act as a go-between for patients and health care providers. They can speak on behalf of patients if they are unable to communicate effectively.
  • Rights advisor – Rights advisors help patients understand what’s happening in situations where their legal status has been changed. Rights advisors inform patients of their rights and options, help patients make applications to the Consent and Capacity Board, and obtain legal counsel if necessary.

Legal Aid Ontario – Consent and Capacity Board

The Consent and Capacity Board (CCB) is an independent provincial tribunal. Most of the CCB’s work involves a review of a person’s involuntary status in a psychiatric facility under the Mental Health Act, or a review under the Health Care Consent Act of a person’s capacity to consent to or refuse treatment.

(Visited 84 times, 1 visits today)