Recent Results:  Defendant walks free after Mark Zinck convinces Scarborough Crown Attorney's Office to drop sexual assault charges
Toronto Criminal Lawyer Mark Zinck

Criminal Legal Aid Lawyer, Toronto

Criminal Legal Aid in Toronto is provided by the Ontario government to some poor individuals who are facing certain criminal charges and consequences. When a legal aid certificate is issued, the client is free to find and retain a criminal legal aid lawyer who is willing to work their case and be paid by legal aid.

Please note: Mark Zinck does not accept legal aid certificate cases. For more information on our legal aid refusal policy, please see here.

How to get a Legal Aid Certificate

Applicant Eligibility

Legal Aid Ontario has recently made significant changes regarding what criminal files they will issue certificates for. While each case is different, and it is always a good idea to apply for legal aid to see if you are eligible, normally legal aid certificates are not issued in criminal cases with zero risk of incarceration. This is a stark policy change from previously where legal aid certificates were given to individuals in cases where the prosecution was seeking probation.

In practise, when you apply for legal aid, the legal aid duty council will request from the crown attorney on the file what sentence they would be looking for upon conviction. If the sentence they are looking for does not include any time in custody (jail/prison), then a certificate will likely be denied. This means accused who are facing a period of probation alone will likely be denied legal aid.

Criminal Lawyers who Accept Legal Aid, Toronto

Most criminal legal aid work in Ontario is done by private lawyers who accept to be paid by legal aid certificates. To find out if a lawyer accepts legal aid, the best option is to simply contact their office and ask.

Some lawyers choose not to accept legal aid certificates, normally for one of three reasons:

1. They do not wish to work for the relatively low rate a legal aid certificate pays;

2. They feel the file is too complex and will require more hours than are allowed to be billed by the file; or

3. They are not authorized by Legal Aid Ontario to accept criminal legal aid certificates.

Other Problems with Legal Aid

Another problem lawyers who accept certificates face is that sometimes legal aid will require detailed explanations of what the lawyer did during each billing hour, which is difficult and time consuming for the lawyer to produce. While most people simply show up for work and get paid, legal aid sometimes wants lawyers to detail in writing everything they did for each minute before they pay them. This itself creates a significant amount of unpaid work the lawyer must do to handle the file. Sometimes it's simply not worth the hastle.

How to Apply for a Criminal Legal Aid Lawyer in Toronto

Legal aid has offices in most courthouses around Toronto (GTA) where applications can be made. There are also programs at the jails that cater to those in custody. Normally, legal aid will require some financial documentation to ensure you are poor enough for coverage. This may include income tax returns or social assistance/welfare documentation. For individuals who cannot produce these documents, legal aid may accept their claim anyway. In fact, many individuals who are poor, homeless, etc. have not filled income tax returns in years (they live "off the grid").

Are legal aid lawyers any good?

It is a myth that a lawyer will work harder for a paying client than a legal aid client. In fact, lawyers are governed by ethics guidelines that require them to serve each client equally. In some cases poorer defendants are at a disadvantage, however, if legal aid refuses to pay for expert witnesses that may have otherwise helped their case. Obviously, this is not the fault of the defence lawyer. 

Please note: Mark Zinck does not accept legal aid certificies. For more information on our legal aid refusal policy, please see here.

Facing Criminal Charges?
Stand up for yourself and contact us today.


Consilium Place
100 Consilium Place
Scarborough, ON
M1H 3E3
Downtown Toronto
First Canadian Place
100 King Street West
Toronto, ON
M5X 1C7
tel: 647-228-5969     |     toll free: 1-866-347-3322    |

Fill out this form for a FREE, Immediate, Case Evaluation






Case Details:

Mark Zinck
Criminal Defence Attorney
©2017. All Rights Reserved.

Please note: Mark Zinck is a paid criminal lawyer. All information provided on this website is of a general nature and should not replace or be relied on as legal advice. Each case is different and legal decisions ought to be made in consultation with a practising lawyer. Your use of this website is governed by our Terms and Conditions.