Legal Aid




Getting Help

The New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission may be able to provide a lawyer for some of the following criminal matters.

The following is an overview of Legal Aid Services, it is not a complete list of what is, and is not covered, so be sure to contact your local Legal Aid office about your specific situation. How you apply depends on your situation and what kind of legal service you are seeking.

Police Station

From the Police Station When Detained:
Every person that has been arrested or detained by a law enforcement agency has the right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to contact a lawyer. This service allows persons accused of an offence to consult with a lawyer on short notice. This service is only available while you are detained.

There is no financial eligibility criteria for this service.


From Court

Duty Counsel:
For certain criminal matters, you may be able to get advice from Duty Counsel at the court house. Duty Counsel can explain the court process and give you informal advice about making a plea, asking for an adjournment, and appearing at a bail hearing or at sentencing. The Duty Counsel lawyer may appear with the accused to enter a plea but will not represent the accused or appear at trial.

Anyone can access Duty Counsel for certain criminal matters right at the courthouse. Be sure to go early.

There is no financial eligibility criteria for duty counsel services.


Specialized Duty Counsel
Specialized Duty Counsel:

Legal Aid Duty Counsel represents individuals who have been found unfit for trial and who appear periodically before Mental Health Review Boards.

At Trial

Criminal Trial Services:
If you have been charged with a criminal offence and you cannot afford a lawyer, you may apply for legal aid. Generally, if there is a likelihood that conviction for this offence would result in jail time, and you meet the eligibility criteria, Legal Aid will provide a lawyer to handle your case.

How to Apply

The first step is to contact your local legal aid office to schedule an appointment. 
Eligibility Criteria

Generally, people with low income or those on social assistance qualify for covered services. Legal Aid determines who is eligible for legal representation based on scope of service and financial eligibility.
Scope of Service

Type of legal service required - Not all legal proceedings are covered by legal aid. Criminal matters NOT covered include: 
  • Default hearings;
  • Bail reviews;
  • Firearms applications;
  • Provincial offences, except where a mandatory jail sentence is called for (e.g. certain offences under the Fish & Wildlife Act).

Financial Eligibility

 Financial eligibility is determined based on the following three factors:

1. Income: Your income includes salary, wages, commissions, boarder income, other income, pension, allowances, and any other benefits received. Income earned by your spouse/common-law partner who resides in your household and dependants included under paragraph (b) (see “Household Size” below) is also included in the calculation.  

Sources of income NOT included are:

  • Child Tax Benefit or Canada Child Benefit (previously called Universal Child Care Benefit);
  • GST Rebates;
  • Income Tax Refunds;
  • Bursaries or grants received from an educational institution or student loans;
  • The gross income of your dependants included under paragraph (a) (see "Household Size" below).

2. Allowable Deductions: The following expenses paid by yourself, your spouse/common-law partner, or dependants included under paragraph (b) (see “Household Size” below) are deducted from your income.

Allowable deductions include:

  • Child care payments (Daycare, Babysitter, etc.);
  • Child and spousal support payments;
  • Medical or dental expenses that are not covered by an insurance plan, if the annual expenses are $1,500 or more.

 3. Household Size: Includes the following people:

  • Yourself;
  • Your current spouse/common-law partner;
  • Children under 18 years of age who live with you at least 40% of the time;
  • Dependants:

a) between the ages of 18 and 25 years (inclusive) who are registered at an educational institution and who reside with you at least 40% of the time. 

b) 18 years of age or over, who suffers absence or reduction of functional competence because of physical or mental impairment which substantially limits their ability to carry out normal daily activities and who resides with you at least 40% of the time.


What to Bring to Your Appointment

You should bring as much information as possible to show your income and allowable deductions, as well as those of your current spouse/common-law partner and dependants referred to in paragraph (b) (see "Household Size" above).

  • Identification (e.g. Social insurance card, driver’s license, or Medicare card).
  • Proof of income (e.g. pay stubs received during thirty (30) days prior to date of application, income assistance stubs or Employment Insurance statements, other proof as required).

    • Are you seasonally employed on a regular basis?
      • If yes, in addition to the proof of income listed above please bring your most recent Income Tax Notice of Assessment.

    • Are you in receipt of Social Assistance Benefits?
      • If yes, please bring your most recent deposit slip and your white or yellow health card issued by Social Assistance.

  • Proof of allowable deductions (e.g. receipts).
  • Court documentation: You should bring all existing court documentation relating to your case (e.g disclosure, etc.).

Your income (after allowable deductions have been subtracted) and household size are located on our Income Grid to determine financial eligibility. The Income Grid and additional information can be found on our Cost of Services page.

After you make an application for representation in a criminal matter, Legal Aid will usually notify you of the outcome of your application within 1 - 2 weeks. If you have been approved, your lawyer will contact you to schedule a meeting.