Inventory of Legal Aid Plans in Canada (continued)
The Legal Aid plan in New Brunswick was created in 1971 and criminal legal services began to be offered by 1972. The Legal Aid Act (1971) and subsequent regulations define the details of the plan. Legal Aid New Brunswick delivers its criminal legal aid services through a judicare system of delivery.
Unlike the other provinces, New Brunswick does not have financial eligibility criteria. The regulations state that the "ability of a person to pay no part, some part or the whole of the cost of the legal aid, if applied for, shall be determined with reference to the assets, liabilities, income and expenses of the applicant, the applicant's spouse and dependants."
Applicants must submit an application form. The final decision is based on the application and includes an examination of income, assets, liabilities and the merits of the case. It is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Other factors that are taken into consideration include:
- the total amount of legal aid the applicant has received from the plan;
- the complexity of the case;
- the urgency of the matter;
- whether the interests of the applicant are best served by legal aid;
- whether the applicant is on social assistance.
Expanded Eligibility through Contribution
Gross income excluding the Child Tax Benefit.
In determining whether an applicant should contribute to the costs of the legal aid, the applicant must have available for contribution, "a sum equal to the monthly amount of disposable income available, multiplied by eighteen, or the annual amount of disposable income available multiplied by one and one half."
There is no clearly defined assets test. Again, this is determined on a case-by-case basis. Assets are considered only if, in the opinion of the area director, the value exceeds the needs of the applicant and his/her family.
The plan covers all indictable offences - adults and youth charged with federal offences and have a probability of jail time if convicted are covered - and some summary offences - most criminal matter applications which are refused by the plan involve a summary conviction with a low probability of jail if convicted. The Legal Aid Act specifies that certificates shall be issued only where:
- imprisonment or loss of livelihood is likely upon conviction;
- circumstances mitigate the severity of the penalty that may be imposed;
- extraordinary circumstances dictate that it is in the interest of justice.
Appeals brought forward by the accused must have merit, be reasonable and have a strong probability of success before they are granted. Appeals are also covered in response to Crown initiated appeals. The same rules apply for youth.
Duty counsel services are provided in all criminal courts. The accused person is given advice on the charge, procedures and options available. The duty counsel officer does not normally represent the person at trial but can help the person ask for an adjournment or offer a plea. In cases which are not complex, the duty counsel provides full service, bringing the case to completion.
Coverage and Eligibility Reviews
An applicant that is refused legal aid coverage can appeal the decision to the area committee.
There are no fees.
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