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 law enforcement agencies 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.

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 (general counsel) to handle your case.

How to Apply

If you wish to apply for criminal trial services, the first step is to contact your local legal aid office for an appointment or drop by. If your legal problem is a covered service, the intake officer will continue the application process and will need to figure out if you meet the financial eligibility criteria.
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 the following criteria:
  • Your income – including salary, wages, commissions, other income, pension, allowances, and any other benefits received;
  • Your expenses – including cost of food, clothing, household supplies, shelter, utilities, transportation, medical and dental, and other reasonable expenses;
  • The value of your assets – including property, house, motor vehicle, cash, bonds, stocks, and any other assets that can be converted into cash;
  • Any liabilities you have – including any debt you currently have;
  • Your family situation – spouse and how many children you have;
  • The type of legal service required – Remember, not all legal proceedings are covered by legal aid. For example, default hearings are not covered.


What to Bring to Your Appointment

You should bring as much information as possible to show your income, assets, debts, and expenses. For example:

  • Identification (e.g. Social insurance card, driver’s license, or Medicare card);
  • Proof of current income (e.g. recent pay stubs, income assistance stubs or Employment Insurance statements);
  • Proof of monthly expenses and bills (e.g. rent, mortgage payments, credit cards, telephone, heat, electricity and water, car insurance, etc.);
  • Bank statements or bank books;
  • Deed for your house;
  • Proof of unusual expenses (e.g. medical expenses).
In addition, you should bring all existing court documentation relating to your case (e.g disclosure, etc.).


After you make an application for representation in a criminal matter, Legal Aid will usually notify you of the outcome of your application in 1 - 2 weeks; and if approved schedule a meeting with a legal aid lawyer.


Criminal matters NOT covered by Legal Aid 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);