Legal aid




















Criminal charges

You can get a lawyer to represent you in your criminal case if, after you were convicted, you would:

  • go to jail,
  • face a conditional sentence that would severely limit your liberty,
  • lose your way of earning a living, or
  • face an immigration proceeding that could lead to your deportation from Canada.

You can also get a lawyer to represent you if you:

  • have a condition that makes it impossible for you to represent yourself, such as a:
    • physical condition,
    • disability,
    • mental or emotional illness, or
  • are Aboriginal and the case affects your ability to follow a traditional livelihood of hunting and fishing.

If you're facing serious and complex criminal charges and you have been denied legal aid but can't afford a lawyer, you can make a Rowbotham Application. For more information, see the booklet, If You Can't Get a Lawyer for Your Criminal Trial: How to Make a Rowbotham Application.


If you're a young person charged with a federal offence, you're entitled to (have a right to) legal representation. However, if you're in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (foster care), you must speak to your social worker to arrange for a lawyer.

Aboriginal legal rights — Gladue

If you self-identify as Aboriginal, you have special rights under the Criminal Code called Gladue rights. For more information, see our Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC website.

First Nations Court

In addition to your Gladue rights, you may be able to have your bail or sentencing hearing in First Nations Court.

For more information on Gladue and First Nations Court, see our fact sheet Are you Aboriginal?