A Calgary Defence Lawyer's Guide to Legal Aid: Part 2
A compassionate Calgary defence lawyer continues her description of Calgary's Legal Aid services and how you can obtain the defence lawyer you deserve.
In Part 1 of this article, I introduced the topic of legal aid. Alberta Legal Aid and its Calgary office exist to ensure that citizens of Calgary are able to obtain legal counsel for important legal matters when their financial situation doesn't enable them to pay a defence lawyer's typical fees. This includes helping to secure the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer when you have been charged with a serious crime; a professional and knowledgeable legal defence is so important that the right to consult with a lawyer has even been enshrined in Section 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms legal aid helps make this right a reality.
We also looked at the fact that though you are free to request a defence lawyer of your own choice when working with Legal Aid, there are some limitations on when Calgary Legal Aid will be able to provide legal representation. Specifically, we discussed so-called "summary offences," which carry less severe penalties than "indictable offences," and which Legal Aid only rarely offers assistance with. There are also financial eligibility requirements which we will look at here.
Understanding the Calgary Legal Aid Process for Your Defence
First of all, any youth in the Greater Calgary Area and throughout Alberta is legally entitled to assistance from Legal Aid, regardless of their or their family's financial situation. That means if a child or teen in your family has been charged with a crime, you can work with a top-notch Calgary defence lawyer of your choosing at a reduced cost or even possibly no cost at all.
For adults, however, there are financial eligibility requirements. Because Calgary Legal Aid's resources are limited, they cannot assist everyone, and though many defence lawyers work at reduced rates when paid by Legal Aid, there is still an expense involved. This is why financial information is collected and verified during the Calgary Legal Aid application process.
The income thresholds for adults in Calgary hoping to qualify for Legal Aid assistance are based on household size and are as follows:
Household Size: 1 Monthly: $1,638 Annual: $19,653
Household Size: 2 Monthly: $2,027 Annual: $24,333
Household Size: 3 Monthly: $2,885 Annual: $34,627
Household Size: 4 Monthly: $3,120 Annual: $37,434
Household Size: 5 Monthly: $3,354 Annual: $40,242
Household Size: 6 Monthly: $3,587 Annual: $43,050
If you make more per month or per year than the amounts listed next to your household size, you will not be eligible for assistance from Legal Aid, but you can and should still discuss your case with an experienced defence lawyer. If you do qualify for Legal Aid, you may be responsible for some of the upfront costs associated with your defence, and/or you may need to make a full or partial repayment at a later date.
Contact a Calgary Defence Lawyer for Legal Aid Information
As mentioned before, you are entitled to work with any defence lawyer in Calgary who is willing to take your case and work with Legal Aid. Choosing a lawyer first and letting them help you through your Legal Aid application can often be to your benefit. For a free initial consultation, please contact my office today.