Getting legal help

I've been charged with a crime... do I qualify for legal aid services?

Family Law Service Centres

Family Law Service Centres offer eligible clients a range of legal resources and support for family matters. Find out more.

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) provides a wide range of services for you. Some of these services are free.

If you live in Ontario and are charged with a crime:

  • Call our toll-free line and talk to a legal aid representative or lawyer.
  • When you get to the courthouse, talk to the legal aid duty counsel lawyer. This lawyer and the court’s legal aid staff are there to help you.

    They may provide you with all the legal support you need for your appearance.

    They may also tell you what you can do if legal aid is not an option for you.

    If your matter is not resolved that day, ask the duty counsel lawyer what you should do next. Duty counsel may suggest that you call our toll-free line, or tell you to apply for legal aid through our certificate program. Our certificate program covers the cost of hiring a LAO lawyer or a member of the private bar to represent you.
  • Go to a student legal aid clinic and talk to a law student.

How does LAO decide whether a legal matter qualifies for a certificate?

Two main factors LAO considers are:

  • Financial eligibility for legal aid, AND
  • The legal matter must qualify. In general, for criminal matters, this means the likelihood of facing jail if found guilty of the offense.

    LAO may consult a list of circumstances to help us decide whether a legal matter qualifies for legal aid services. LAO also consults its lists of Criminal Code charges.

Criminal Code charge search

Start typing the name of the crime you are charged with in the space below to begin your search.

LAO uses its lists of Criminal Code charges as a guideline only. We know it is not always clear, in advance, whether or not a charge will result in jail time. LAO assesses each person’s need for legal support individually, based on a number of factors, including the charges, the potential or likely sentence for this matter upon conviction, relevant court decisions, your age and personal circumstances, legal aid resources available in the region, and any other relevant factor. LAO reserves the right to make a final decision on the services it will provide; you can appeal this decision.