Getting legal help
Legal Aid Ontario offers a range of services for criminal legal matters. You will get the legal help that best fits your situation. Services for eligible clients include:
- Duty counsel
- Summary legal advice
- Representation by a lawyer through the certificate program
Legal issues that we cover
Legal Aid Ontario offers coverage for many legal issues, but not all. Legal aid is most often available for serious criminal charges (for example, where there is a strong likelihood of someone going to jail); as well as charges laid under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Please note that you must also be financially eligible to qualify for legal aid services.
Legal aid services for criminal matters
Do you have a low income and an immediate court date, but still need a lawyer? Read about our duty counsel program.
Summary legal advice
Eligible clients with criminal law issues may be able to speak with a lawyer for up to 20 minutes of summary legal advice and information, through the toll-free number. Call 1-800-668-8258 to see if you qualify. Summary legal advice can include information such as:
- First appearance procedures
- How to prepare for a pre-trial
- Bail information and process
- Guilty pleas
- General advice on legal options and possible outcomes
- Certificate eligibility issues
Representation by a lawyer – the certificate program
The certificate program helps clients pay for a lawyer's services, and is only for the most serious and complex cases.
Your legal matter must be one that Legal Aid Ontario covers. Get information on whether you qualify for legal aid services if you have been charged with a crime.
In addition, you must be financially eligible to get help through the certificate program.
To apply for the certificate program, call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258.
Online legal information resources
Legal Aid Ontario's sister site, LawFacts.ca provides free online legal information for individuals with questions about criminal law in Ontario.
LawFacts is not legal advice, and is not designed as a substitute for advice from your lawyer or duty counsel, but it will help you understand the justice system so that you can make more informed choices about your next step.
Select one of the following questions.
If you have been charged with a crime, and were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offence, you can read about our youth criminal law services.
The Department of Justice website has more information of this topic for parents and guardians.
Your friend or family member should be able to get help in bail court through duty counsel services.
If your legal issue is not covered by these options, please try another category (e.g. family matters), visit our other resources page, or call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 or 416-979-1446 to speak to a representative. Legal Aid Ontario accepts collect calls.
Please note that these are external links and Legal Aid Ontario is not responsible for their content.
Understanding the law:
Canada's Court System
A general description of the court system in Canada, the types and levels of courts and their responsibilities.
Canada's System of Justice
Understand what the law is, where it comes from, what it is for, and how it operates.
A legal information resource from Legal Aid Ontario which provides in-depht legal information and resources
Your Legal Rights: Criminal Law
Information on a variety of criminal topics
Statutes and regulations:
View the full text of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)
The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), the YCJA explained and other information.
A site that helps people prepare for court.
Department of Justice Canada
Review information on federal laws including youth services.
Ministry of the Attorney General
Visit the Attorney General site to get information on going to court, court locations, court forms and applications, small claims court, jury duty, power of attorney links to legislation and information on any court procedures.
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
Find information on police services in Ontario, parole board hearings and correctional facilities.
Investigates complaints against provincial government organizations.
Ontario court addresses
Find local courthouses by location or region.
Youth criminal law
Court preparation guide
Helps youth prepare for court.
Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY)
Provides legal representation to low-income children and youth in Toronto and area. Specializes in protecting the rights of those facing conflicts with the legal system, education, social service or mental health systems.
Ministry of Children and Youth Services
Provides youth justice services to youth, aged 12 to 17 at the time of their offence, who are charged with or convicted of criminal or provincial offences.
Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN)
Dedicated to promoting understanding, education, and dialogue to support a responsive and inclusive justice system.
Youth Criminal Justice Act
The Youth Criminal Justice Act is Canada's law that applies to youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who have come into conflict with the law.
Youth justice information
Publications, information and answers to questions about youth justice, the new Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), and the Youth Justice Renewal Initiative. Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) material from across Canada.