I can’t afford a lawyer. What are my options?
Hiring a criminal lawyer
I Can’t Afford a Lawyer. What Are My Options?
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, you will have many concerns on your mind. One of these will be the cost to hire your legal representation.
In some cases, there are alternatives to a privately hiring me to defend you against your charges.
Here are some tips to help you determine out how to secure my legal representation:
Can I get Legal Aid?
Legal Aid Alberta is a provincial service with offices throughout Alberta. Legal Aid provides legal assistance to both adults and youth who have been charged with a criminal offence. If you have a limited income, it may be an option for you.
Eligibility is determined from the type of charges you are facing and your financial circumstances. To qualify, your charges must generally be serious in nature, and you must provide your financial information for Legal Aid Alberta to reivew. Financial information may include your income, assets, living arrangements, and any dependents you have. The extent of your eligibility will be determined accordingly.
There is no charge to apply; however, the service is not free. Legal Aid will discuss with you how repayment works for their service.
If you qualify for Legal Aid, you may benefit from any range of services from simple legal information to full legal representation, depending upon your eligibility.
If I qualify for Legal Aid, can I ask for you to represent me?
Yes. If you qualify for any type of Legal Aid coverage, you can request that I represent you through a Legal Aid certificate. This is essentially a retainer agreement with Legal Aid so that I can represent you.
Please call me if you have questions about retaining my legal services through Legal Aid!
Can I hire you for only part of my criminal proceedings?
For those who are concerned about costs but do not qualify for Legal Aid you may be able to hire me with a “limited scope” retainer agreement.
A limited scope retainer is where you would hire me to represent you for only specific services. You pay for only that part of the work that I perform for you, and you would represent yourself for the rest. For example, if you have not yet been charged with a criminal offence, you might hire me for “pre-charge advice” only.
Although this will not be available in every situation – and is not a wise choice for some complex criminal matters – it can be a feasible option if you are facing potential conviction for only a minor offence.
Call my office to find out if this is an option available to you!
What about payment plans?
I am sensitive to the life-changing effect that being charged with a criminal offence will have on you. I am also aware of how this can impact your financial circumstances, and those of your family.
To help alleviate the personal and financial struggle, in some circumstances you can hire me to represent you under a traditional full retainer arrangement but pay for my services under a payment plan spread out over months. You can pay for my services while your criminal matter is still in progress, with regular payments under an ongoing retainer.
This can be a welcome solution to having to pay legal fees in a lump-sum.
What about self-representation?
In criminal matters, although you are able to act on your own as a “self-represented” person, the process can be daunting, and you may end up not getting the result you would if you had effective legal representation from an experienced criminal lawyer.
In criminal law, the stakes are usually very high: The Canadian criminal justice system does not make special allowances for self-represented litigants, which means you will be subject to the same rules of procedure, laws of evidence, and procedural protocols that apply to experienced defence lawyers.
Criminal proceedings are very complex. Depending on the severity of the charge, if you are found guilty you could face a serious sentence, including jail time. Further, having a criminal record can impact employment, travel, and volunteering.
In short: Self-representation is generally not the best way to go when it comes to your own criminal matter. There is often far too much at stake.
How do I request an appointment with you to discuss my options?
If you are a cost-conscious client who has been charged with an offence, feel free to schedule call me to discuss the options and unique arrangements that might be available to you.
For one thing, the costs of the needed legal services in your criminal matter may not be as high or as prohibitive as you think. Sometimes clients rule out their ability to afford my services, without having accurate information on how much the costs really are.
My flexibility may be your solution. We can work together to accommodate your current and future financial situation and help defer the up-front fiscal challenges that accompany your need to hire an experienced lawyer at this crucial time.
This will help you afford the quality legal representation I can give you – and that you deserve.