There are two types of law in Canada. Civil proceedings are those which concern matters between two or more private individuals or corporations. Criminal proceedings are those matters between a defendant (i.e., the accused person or business) and the Crown (i.e., the State).
What Is Duty Counsel?
Duty Counsel is a lawyer provided by the Legal Aid Society who is present at the provincial criminal courts in most centres and in addition, provides assistance to victims of abuse in family law matters in provincial family courts. The Criminal Law Duty Counsel gives advice to people who are about to appear in court. The Duty Counsel may speak in court on your behalf or assist you with entering a plea, making a bail application, seeking an adjournment, or speaking to sentence. The Duty Counsel’s services are free to anyone who needs immediate assistance; your financial circumstances are not important. Duty Counsel will also assist persons who are in custody. You should try to see the Duty Counsel before court begins, but if your case is called and you have not had a chance to see him or her, ask the judge to allow you time to speak with the Duty Counsel before dealing with your case. The Family Law Duty Counsel is also there to give advice to people before court and to assist victims of family violence to obtain an Emergency Protection Order. Calgary Legal Guidance provides a lawyer to act as Duty Counsel in Court of Queen’s Bench to assist unrepresented parties in family law matters.
Am I Entitled to an Interpreter in Court Proceedings?
Section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that any party or witness in any proceeding who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted, or who is deaf, has the right to the assistance of an interpreter. This section does not say that the interpreter must be provided free of charge, however. If you are involved in legal proceedings and you need an interpreter, and if you believe that some of your rights or freedoms will be denied because you cannot afford one, you should ask the court to appoint an interpreter. The judge will look at your particular situation and decide if an interpreter should be provided at government expense. Any requests for an interpreter should be made early in the proceedings so the court and other parties are not inconvenienced by any delay.