Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Legal Aid Manitoba (LAM) works to ensure that people with low incomes have the protections guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is a cornerstone of our democracy.
Under the Charter, all Canadians have these rights, regardless of income:
- To be secure against unreasonable search
- Not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned
- To be presumed innocent until proven guilty
How We Help
There are two types of criminal offences:
1. Indictable Offences
Indictable offences are very serious offences such as:
- Attempted murder
- Theft over $5,000
- Driving impaired causing death
Who will handle my case?
You will receive full representation services from a lawyer appointed by LAM if you are charged with an indictable offence and you qualify financially for legal aid.
2. Summary Conviction Offences
Summary conviction offences are less serious such as:
- Theft under $5,000
- Carrying a concealed weapon
- Possessing narcotics
- Impaired driving
Who will handle my case?
If you are charged with a summary conviction offence, you will only receive full representation services from a lawyer appointed by LAM if:
- You qualify financially for legal aid, and
- There is a likelihood that you will go to jail or lose your job if you are convicted
Generally, if you are charged with a summary conviction offence and you qualify financially for legal aid, but it is unlikely that you will go to jail or lose your job if convicted, LAM will refer your case to Duty Counsel or (where available) to LAM’s University of Manitoba Community Law Centre to have a student provide you with representation assistance under the supervision of a lawyer.
If there is a reasonable possibility that your case could result in incarceration or job loss, either Duty Counsel or the University of Manitoba Community Law Centre will refer you back to LAM to receive full representation services from a lawyer appointed by LAM.
What if I am in court and I do not have legal aid?
If you do not have legal aid, you may access free Duty Counsel services to help with criminal defence matters, no matter what your financial situation is.
Prison and Parole Issues
LAM provides assistance to inmates dealing with prison and parole issues at various correctional institutions throughout the province.
A criminal organization as defined by The Criminal Code of Canada is not eligible for legal aid. Generally speaking, this includes groups such as outlaw biker gangs.