Arrested? LAO’s Brydges hotline will connect you to a lawyer, 24/7

Friday, June 7, 2013

If you have been arrested or detained, you have the right, through Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)’s Brydges hotline, to talk to a legal aid lawyer over the telephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This service is available to all Ontarians, not just those who are financially eligible.

Fast facts about LAO’s Brydges hotline

  • The Brydges hotline advises approximately 55,000 people annually
  • Between 2008 and 2012, an average of 66,053 people called LAO’s Brydges hotline annually, and 57,140 received advice.

LAO established this toll-free line in light of the 1990 Supreme Court of Canada ruling R. v. Brydges. This ruling says that the police have a duty, as set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to advise anyone arrested or detained of the availability of duty counsel and legal aid services.

How Brydges works

Should you be arrested or detained, you can tell the police you wish to speak with duty counsel. A law enforcement agency employee, such as a police officer, will then dial LAO’s toll-free Brydges number: If a lawyer is available, he or she will answer your call. If all of the duty counsel lawyers are on a call, the police will leave a message.

An LAO duty counsel lawyer will return this call via the Brydges hotline, generally within 30 minutes. If you have been charged with a serious offence or drinking and driving, you may be called back sooner, as these calls are prioritized. The law enforcement agency person will then arrange for you to talk — privately and in confidence — over this hotline with an LAO lawyer.