POLITICS

Ontario Legal Aid Services Expanded To Help More Low-Income Residents

06/08/2015 11:11 EDT | Updated 06/08/2016 05:59 EDT
Jag Gundu via Getty Images
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 10: Fans show up at Old City Hall court house to show support for Justin Bieber on March 10, 2014 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jag Gundu/Getty Images)
TORONTO - Legal Aid Ontario says increased government funding announced in this year's budget will mean expanded services for about 400,000 low-income residents.

People charged with crimes who don't face potential jail time but may be hit with "secondary consequences" such as loss of a job or public housing could be eligible for legal aid.

Others could qualify for legal aid if a conviction would have a significant impact on access to family and child custody, if they face a risk of deportation or a risk of being added to the sexual offenders registry.

It will also be easier for adults with no prior criminal record to qualify for legal aid, especially if they are First Nation, Métis or Inuit, have a mental illness or are a victim of domestic violence charged with an offence related to the victim's partner.

Some people will be able to get legal aid to help with bail hearings to reduce the number of people in custody as they wait for a trial and to help ensure that fewer people plead guilty simply to get out of jail.

Officials say the decision on bail often inappropriately affects an accused's decision to plead guilty, because the longer a person spends in custody, the more likely that person is to plead.

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