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Rowbotham Hearings

In Ontario, we have a Legal Aid system that tries to ensure people who are charged with criminal offences have access to a lawyer. However, it is very difficult for people making even a modest income to qualify. Legal Aid Ontario will look at your household income when you apply, and if it is above their maximum, they will deny you funding for your defence. This creates a very unfair situation, where many working people charged with criminal offences cannot afford to pay a lawyer and cannot qualify for Legal Aid.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence and have been denied Legal Aid but do not think you can afford a lawyer, you should call us. We may be able to bring a Rowbotham application on your behalf, where we will argue that either Legal Aid or the prosecution should pay for your defence. We have been very successful at bringing these applications for our clients, with the following recent examples:


R. v. T.M. (2016): Application granted for Superior Court of Justice jury trial, for trafficking and possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. The Honourable Justice Nordheimer recognized the problem with Legal Aid’s income requirements, stating:

It should be obvious to any outside observer that the income thresholds being used by Legal Aid Ontario do not bear any reasonable relationship to what constitutes poverty in this country.

R. v. D.M. (2017): Application granted for Ontario Court of Justice preliminary inquiry for importing cocaine.

R. v. A.M. (2017): Application granted for Ontario Court of Justice trial for sexual assault.


Call us at 416-550-6554 to discuss bringing a Rowbotham application on your behalf if you’ve been denied Legal Aid. We will prepare and argue the application free of charge if we believe it has merit.

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