2. Talk to a lawyer

My partner is abusing me, but what happens if the police charge me?
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2. Talk to a lawyer

If your partner is abusing you, but the police charge you with a crime, get legal help right away. You can talk to a lawyer who can give you some legal information and advice.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for everything, some lawyers also provide "unbundled services" or "limited scope retainer" services.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer at all, you might be able to find legal help in other places.

Duty Counsel

Duty counsel are lawyers who help people who don't have their own lawyers. They can help you in a few ways. They can:

  • Call someone who might be able to be a "surety" for you, and ask them to come to the courthouse. A surety is someone who comes to court and agrees to be responsible for you if you get out of jail. This means if you don't follow any of your bail conditions and you have a surety, they might have to pay money to the court.
  • Talk to the Crown Attorney, to see if they agree to release you without a bail hearing.
  • Help you present information and reasons at your bail hearing about why you should be released.

You need to make some decisions. You need to decide what kind of conditions you agree with and whether you should plead guilty. A criminal lawyer, such as duty counsel at criminal court, can explain what may happen based on what you decide to do.

Legal Aid certificate

If your income is low enough, you could get a Legal Aid certificate to hire a criminal law lawyer to represent you.

A Legal Aid certificate is a document that says Legal Aid Ontario will pay a lawyer to work for a certain number of hours on your legal issues.

Legal Aid Ontario may give you a certificate if:

  • your income is low enough, and
  • this is the first time you’ve been charged with a crime, or if you do not have a criminal record

Legal Aid Ontario may also give you a certificate if something serious could happen if the court finds you guilty. For example, if there is a chance you will be sent to jail, lose your job, lose custody of or access to your children, or face immigration or refugee challenges.

Not all lawyers accept these certificates. If Legal Aid Ontario gives you one, you have to find a criminal law lawyer who agrees to work for you and accept your certificate. Legal Aid Ontario's online Interactive tool: Find a lawyer can help you find a lawyer who does.

If Legal Aid Ontario rejects your application for a certificate, you can:

  1. Appeal the decision. This means that you disagree with the decision and want to ask someone with more authority to review it.
  2. Go to court and ask for an order that the government pay for your lawyer. The court might make this type of order if you cannot afford a lawyer and you need one to have a fair trial.

You might also want to talk to someone at a shelter or a community agency. They might help you get a referral to a lawyer who may help you free of charge.

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Reviewed: August 31, 2017

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