A Calgary Defence Lawyer's Guide to Legal Aid: Part 1

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Cost doesn't have to be a barrier to the Calgary defence lawyer you deserve. Learn more about Calgary Legal Aid.

One of the most important rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, at least from the perspective of this Calgary defence lawyer, appears in Section 10. This section describes the rights that every Canadian—including everyone here in our fair city of Calgary—is entitled to when they are arrested and/or charged with a crime. Among these rights is your right to consult with an experienced defence lawyer of your choosing as soon as possible following your arrest or the notification of charges being laid against you.

Why do I think this is one of the most important rights in the entire Charter, and in all of Canadian law? Because this is the right that helps you protect all of your other rights. When you are accused of breaking the law, there, often a tendency for others to treat you as though you have already been convicted. This can be true of colleagues and community members as well as law enforcement officers and Crown prosecutors, even though another of your Charter rights is the right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty.

To make sure you are treated fairly and correctly, and to give you the best possible means of defending yourself against a criminal charge you need to have a legal professional at your side who understands Calgary's criminal justice system. That's why the Charter makes this a right for everyone, regardless of the crime they've been charged with or their financial standing.

And that's where Calgary's Legal Aid office comes in.

What is Legal Aid and How Can Calgary Citizens Use it in Criminal Defence Cases?

Alberta Legal Aid is an organization that works to partner lawyers with people who need them but cannot afford typical legal fees. In other words, Legal Aid works to ensure that everyone is able to take advantage of their right to partner with a lawyer no matter what their financial situation is. Working with Legal Aid, you can secure the assistance of not only a defence lawyer, but tax lawyers, civil litigators, and other legal professionals to assist you with a wide array of legal matters.

When it comes to criminal defence cases, there are a few limitations on what the Calgary Legal Aid office can help you with. Because their resources are limited, they typically only assist people who are facing serious criminal charges known as indictable offences; lesser charges known as summary offences may qualify for assistance, but it is unlikely in most cases. If you are charged with a serious crime and cannot afford to hire a Calgary defence lawyer on your own, though, Legal Aid may be able to help.

You Can Choose Your Own Defence Lawyer with Calgary Legal Aid

There are other eligibility requirements you have to meet in order to qualify for Legal Aid in Calgary, which we'll look at in Part 2 of this article. It's important to remember, though, that if you qualify you can choose your own defence lawyer. In fact, if you contact a Calgary defence lawyer first, they may be able to help you secure assistance from Legal Aid—your choice and your chances in a criminal defence shouldn't be limited by your financial standing.

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