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AJ Murray Legal Services P.C. Blog

  • Writer's pictureTira Muise

Can Paralegals in Ontario represent an accused in Criminal Court?

The answer to this question often confuses people because the answer is both yes and

no. Paralegals can represent an accused when they are charged with a Summary

Offence that has a maximum sentence of 6 months or less. However, there is an

exception to this rule.

With the introduction of Bill-75, many crimes that once had a 6-month maximum

sentence (for example: assault) now have a maximum of a 2-year sentence. Because

these offences were once practiced by paralegals, paralegals can still provide

representation for these offences.

Here are a few examples of crimes in which a paralegal can assist you:

s. 266 – Assault

Assault is a common charge that can arise from various situations, such as physical

altercations or verbal threats that make someone fear for their safety. Many people

believe because assault now has a maximum penalty of 2 years less a day; you need a

lawyer to represent you. This is not entirely true. A paralegal may represent you if you

are being prosecuted through a summary, not an indictment. This is for the less serious

assaults such as bar fights.

s. 334 – Theft (in conjunction with) 334(b) – Punishment for Theft (under $5000)

Theft is another crime many believe paralegals can’t represent an accused

because of the maximum penalty. While grand thefts are out of the scope of practice for

paralegals, the lesser but more frequently used charge of theft under $5000.00 (also

known as petty theft) is a crime which you can have a paralegal represent you. This

charge is commonly associated with shoplifting, stealing personal belongings, or other

minor theft offenses.

s. 264.1(3) – Uttering Threats

Uttering threats may seem like something that would not be considered a crime as it is

something we tend to do sometimes in our day-to-day lives without even realizing it. You

may be in an argument and in the heat of the moment shout something along the lines

of “I’m going to kill you!” or “You’re going to get it when I get my hands on you!”.

However, utterances of that kind in front of the wrong person may lead to you being

charged with this crime quicker than you think.

s. 140(2) – Public mischief

This crime will often get lost on people because of the word “mischief”. What exactly is

mischief in relation to the Criminal Code of Canada? Well, it’s not as mischievous as

you may think. It could be something as simple as falsely filing a police report, smashing

beer bottles on a street, or punching a hole in someone’s wall.

s. 264(3) - Criminal Harassment

Criminal harassment involves engaging in behavior that causes someone to fear for

their safety or well-being. This can include repeated unwanted contact, stalking, threats,

or intimidation. Despite the serious nature of this offense, it happens a lot more often

than you would realize. Many also downplay the severity of this offence. Whether you

were pleading to a loved one, demanding payment or reimbursement, or just want your

voice to be heard, criminal harassment is still an offence under section of 264(3) of the

Criminal Code of Canada.

s. 66(1) – Unlawful assembly

Unlawful assembly charges stem from participating in gatherings or protests deemed

unlawful by authorities. With the political climate of today, there has been a lot more

protests happening in the province. People are protesting the cost of rent and the

current backlog of the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB). Intentional traffic stoppages (a

crime in itself) are being conducted to send a message to our leaders in respect to the

war and genocide of Palestine. You will still even see protests surrounding the

governments response to Covid-19 happen occasionally. While you may think you are

doing your part for change, you may be participating in a criminal offence, and you

could be charged.

Some other offences for which the services of a paralegal can be obtained include but

are not limited to the following:

• Section 162(5) – Voyeurism,

• Section 173(1)-(2) – Indecent act / Exposure,

• Section 282(1) – Abduction in Contravention of a Custody Order, and

• Section 126-127 - Disobeying a Statute or Court Order.

Why do I need a paralegal?

Perhaps the reason you are reading this is that you were charged with a criminal

offence, and you are wondering, “Is it worth it?”. After all, a lot of these offences are

minor offences. Your prosecutor may have presented you with a deal where you only

have probation or a suspended sentence. Being a first-time offender, this may sound

great; however, you will now have a criminal record. This can affect your life in many

ways, such as perhaps landing that dream job. It always best to seek legal advice and


If you have been charged with a summary offence, contact me to discuss what your

next steps should be.

About the Author

Tira Muise

Licensed Paralegal

AJ Murray Legal Services P.C.


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