Court Site Study of Adult Unrepresented Accused in the Provincial Criminal Courts (Part 2: Site Reports)

Chapter 3: Halifax, Nova Scotia (continued)

3.4 Other types of representation

3.4.1 Prevalence of other types of representation

Figure H-4 displays the representation provided by counsel of various types at each stage of the criminal process. 

Figure H-4. Disposed Cases: By Representation Type by Appearance Type, Halifax

Representation at First Three Appearances
Appearance Represented by Accused No Show (%) Number of Cases
Self (%) Duty Counsel Other Legal Aid (%) Private Counsel (%)
First Appearance 37 32 5 15 13 508 (101%)
Second Appearance (if any) 31 24 16 21 8 433 (100%)
Third Appearance (if any) 20 19 28 23 10 348 (100%)

Representation at Key Stages
Appearance Represented by Accused No Show (%) Number of Cases
Self (%) Duty Counsel Other Legal Aid (%) Private Counsel (%)
Bail 35 49 2 13 n/a 144 (101%)
Plea 19 14 38 29 0 336 (101%)
Defence Election 6 13 38 43 0 63 (100%)
Final Appearance 23 13 37 25 3 508 (101%)

Notes

The Figure suggests that:

  • Legal Aid assisted a little over a third of all accused at first appearance and bail, the vast majority of these cases being handled by duty counsel.
  • Duty counsel was able to take a significant number of cases to plea (14 percent) and final resolution (13 percent).
  • Duty counsel handled roughly half (49 percent) of the cases at bail.
  • Legal Aid (including duty counsel) assisted approximately half of all accused at plea, defence elections, and final appearance.
  • Private counsel assisted a significant proportion of accused at all stages – 14 percent and 13 percent of all accused at first appearance and at bail; almost a third of all accused at plea; almost half of all accused at defence elections; and a quarter of all accused at final appearance.  Given the small number of legal aid certificates issued (less than 1,000 annually for the entire province), it seems apparent that most of the private bar members appearing in criminal court in Halifax are privately retained and reimbursed.

Figure H-5 shows the most serious offence charged in cases with different types of representation at the final appearance. 

Figure H-5. Disposed Cases: Representation Status at Final Appearance by Most Serious Charge Category, Halifax *
Most Serious Charge Category Proportion of Cases represented by Number of Cases
Self (%) Duty Counsel (%) Other Legal Aid (%) Private Counsel (%)
Homicide *** 0 *** *** 4 (100%)
Sexual Assault *** 0 *** *** 4 (100%)
Assaults excl. Common 19 6 44 29 97 (100%)
Robbery 9 18 46 27 11 (100%)
Break and Enter 13 0 50 33 24 (100%)
Impaired Driving 36 0 21 43 14 (100%)
Common Assault 11 14 40 34 35 (100%)
Drugs excl. Simple Possession 5 0 32 63 19 (100%)
Weapons Offences *** 0 *** *** 6 (100%)
Thefts and Frauds 20 24 42 12 174 (100%)
Simple Possession of Drugs *** *** *** *** 9 (100%)
Offences against Administration of Justice 32 12 23 32 66 (100%)
Public Order *** 0 *** *** 8 (100%)
Miscellaneous Criminal Code 27 18 18 27 11 (100%)
Other Federal Statutes 58 4 12 23 26 (100%)
Total 23 13 37 25 508 (100%)

Notes

  • *  Excludes cases for which representation at final appearance was unspecified in the file.
  • *** Not enough cases to present percentages..

The Figure suggests that:

  • The offences that had a higher frequency of Legal Aid representation (including duty counsel) at final appearance were thefts and frauds, robbery, assaults and break and enter.
  • The offences that had a lower frequency of Legal Aid representation were drug offences, offences against the administration of justice, miscellaneous Criminal Code offences, and offences against other federal statutes.  With the exception of drug crimes, all these offences tend to be less serious – with Legal Aid officials suggesting that drug offenders had difficulty establishing their financial eligibility for legal aid.
  • The offences that had a higher frequency of private counsel representation were break and enter (33 percent), impaired driving (43 percent), common assault (32 percent), drug offences excluding simple possession (63 percent), and offences against the administration of justice (32 percent).
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