Extended court restrictions: Q&A for legal aid clients and Albertans

Legal Aid Alberta is continuing to work closely with the judiciary to navigate this difficult period.

Communications and Public Relations
February 03, 2022

In response to the increase in COVID-19 cases and specifically the spread of the Omicron variant in the province, the Provincial Court of Alberta has extended COVID-19 measures until at least February 18.

What does this mean for Legal Aid Alberta clients and others in the justice system?
Almost everyone is having to wait longer for their case to be heard or resolved. Legal Aid Alberta clients are experiencing the most significant delays in criminal and family courts. Many matters are being adjourned, sometimes multiple times, including trials.

How long will I have to wait for my case to be dealt with?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict right now. However, LAA is prioritizing clients with scheduled court appearances whether in person (for more serious matters) or remotely.

With pandemic restrictions ongoing and more people out sick, we simply don’t know when the courts will safely be able to return to normal activity. We do know there are a lot of people waiting to access justice and new cases coming to Legal Aid Alberta every day.

What if I’m newly charged with a crime and scheduled to appear in court?

If you are an adult charged with a criminal offence, you can call Legal Aid Alberta for early appearance assistance up to two weeks before your first court appearance. The quicker you call after being charged, the more likely we can help and save you a trip to the courthouse. We are prioritizing calls from people seeking early appearance advice.

What else should clients know about accessing legal aid services?

LAA is experiencing some service delays due to the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. LAA is continuing to work closely with the judiciary to navigate this difficult period and we appreciate your patience and understanding. New applicants may experience high call wait times and longer processing times.

The good news is, LAA is continuing to provide many uninterrupted essential services, regardless of whether the courts are open or not, to support and protect the rights of all Albertans.

Duty counsel advice on the phone
Duty counsel lawyers are available by phone to provide brief legal advice regardless of your financial situation. It is a free service to all Albertans.

Bail hearings
Arrested and detained? LAA’s Justice of the Peace bail duty counsel lawyers are available from 8 a.m. to midnight, 365 days per year, to inform, advise, and even represent arrested people in official court bail hearings, all by telephone, at no cost.

24/7 hotline from jail
Talk to a lawyer to understand your rights and make informed decisions. The phone number is posted in all police stations in Alberta. In the last year our lawyers fielded more than 16,000 calls from individuals in police custody.

Emergency protection orders 
We can help you get an Emergency Protection Order to keep a violent family member from contacting you or coming near you and your children. This is a free service.

Legal services during COVID-19

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