Criminal duty counsel: Helping clients resolve matters faster
Posted on: Thursday, September 29, 2011
Criminal duty counsel lawyers are helping more clients resolve their matters using alternatives to prosecution, so courts are available for more serious matters.
August 2011 statistics indicate criminal duty counsel lawyers assisted with 40 per cent more diversion matters compared to August 2010. Diversion is an overarching term that applies to a wide-range of methods used to resolve minor criminal matters outside of the courthouse and the traditional criminal justice system.
Often diversion involves the client completing counselling, community service or making a charitable donation in order to have their charges withdrawn by the Crown Attorney. Duty counsel assist either by providing legal advice in cases where diversion has been offered by the Crown or by advocating for diversion if the option has not been initially offered.
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) funds over 700 criminal duty counsel lawyers throughout the province who provide immediate, legal assistance to low-income people who appear in court without a lawyer. Duty counsel assist over one million low-income people a year.
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