Getting the Defence Lawyer You Deserve Through Calgary Legal Aid: Part 2

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In Part 1 of this article, you learned that not only is everyone accused of a crime in Calgary—and indeed, throughout Canada—entitled to consult with an experienced defence lawyer as part of their charter rights, but that organizations and services like Alberta Legal Aid can help you pay for your defence lawyer. There are financial and other eligibility requirements to qualify for Legal Aid; those who qualify can have the legal fees associated with their defence paid in full or in part by the Legal Aid office.

In addition, those who qualify for Legal Aid can choose their own trusted Calgary defence lawyer. Your inability to pay your legal fees on your own does not mean you have to settle for any lawyer Legal Aid assigns you—find a lawyer you feel confident with, and who is able to work with you and with Calgary's Legal Aid office, and you can tell Legal Aid exactly who you will be working with for your defence.

Here are a few other things you should know about Legal Aid and how it can help with your defence.

Calgary Legal Aid Typically Only Pays Legal Fees For Serious Criminal Charges
In most cases, Legal Aid does not provide services to those accused of minor crimes or "summary offences" because these crimes carry lower penalties than "indictable offences"--including lower monetary fines and jail terms no longer than 18 months if imprisonment is imposed at all, they are seen as a lower priority for Legal Aid. With the limited resources available, only those Calgary citizens charged with indictable offences are likely to find assistance from Alberta Legal Aid.

Current Financial Eligibility Guidelines For Calgary Legal Aid
In order to determine financial eligibility for Legal Aid in Calgary and throughout Alberta, the Legal Aid office will look at your family's income for the past 30 days, and they may also look at your annual income. Family size—i.e. the number of people in your household and/or who depend on family income for support—is also taken into account.

The income thresholds are subject to change, so it's important to check with the Legal Aid office or your Calgary defence lawyer for the most current figures. As of now, these are the income limits for receiving Legal Aid; if you make less than the amount listed for your family size, you may receive assistance with the legal fees associated with your defence:

  • Family of 1: $1,638/mo or $19,653 per year
  • Family of 2: $2,027/mo or $24,333 per year
  • Family of 3: $2,855/mo or $34,627 per year
  • Family of 4: $3,120/mo or $37,434 per year
  • Family of 5: $3,354/mo or $40,242 per year
  • Family of 6+: $3,587/mo or $43,050 per year

You Can Contact Your Calgary Defence Lawyer BEFORE Legal Aid
If you've found a defence lawyer in Calgary you'd like to work with, you can contact them before you reach out to the Legal Aid office. Your lawyer may even be able to assist you with the process of applying for Legal Aid. For a free initial consultation with a dedicated Calgary defence lawyer, please contact my office today.

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