Recently, Ontario announced the Judge-Led Intensive Case Management Certificates (JICMC) program, which will give limited-scope legal-aid certificates to unrepresented accused. These certificates cover resolution or the steps up to (but not including) trial.

The certificates are given to accused people who either make too much money for Legal Aid, or perhaps aren’t facing jail time. Either of these scenarios would prevent an accused person from getting a regular Legal Aid certificate. The purpose of these certificates is to get cases that have been sitting in the system for long periods of time moving, in order to assist with the backlog that has been caused by the pandemic.

The certificates allow lawyers to answer legal questions, explain the process, and negotiate resolutions with the Crown. This includes guilty pleas, other forms of resolution such as diversion programs or peace bonds, or setting the matter for trial.

As mentioned already: the certificates do not allow for representation at a trial. Therefore, unrepresented individuals who choose to proceed to a trial, will remain unrepresented at this stage and will have to run their trials by themselves.

Cassandra DeMelo recently spoke about this issue on November 3rd, 2021’s episode of The Current on CBC. You can listen to it here, starting at 3:09:

DeMelo Law feels these certificates will pressure unrepresented people in the criminal justice system to plead guilty, out of fear they will not be represented at trial and have to run their own hearing if they do not.

Accused persons have a right to make full answer and defence and to a fair trial, rights provided for by section 11(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. JICMCs are inconsistent with this right, as they incentivize accused persons, legally presumed innocent, to plead guilty or face a trial where they will be unrepresented, and possibly face a higher penalty than they would have had they taken the “plea deal” negotiated by counsel in the pre-trial stage under the JICMIC program.

As a result of the pressure these certificates will put on accused persons to plead guilty, and the way this pressure is inconsistent with the rights of accused persons in Ontario, DeMelo Law will not be accepting JICMCs. We stand with the Criminal Lawyers Association of Ontario in denouncing this program, and implore the provincial government to instead step up and properly fund the Legal Aid system.

Have you been charged with a criminal offence? Call DeMelo Law to explore your options.