Defendants (criminal proceedings)

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Getting independent legal advice is very important when you are involved in some way with the criminal process. The factsheets tell you when and in what circumstances you are entitled to be represented by a lawyer. They also tell you what a lawyer will do for you. This general factsheet tells you how to find a lawyer and how the costs of the lawyer will be met if you cannot afford to pay.

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Finding a lawyer

You are entitled to have a lawyer from the moment you are detained or the start of your first interrogation. In some cases you may be defended by a lawyer‘s assistant but most often, it is a lawyer who will be your defence counsellor.

You are not obliged to have a lawyer – you may refuse such assistance and defend yourself in person. But this is only possible if you know the language of the procedure. If you do not know the language – in this case Lithuanian – you are obliged to have a lawyer.

If you need a lawyer, you can find one in the list held by the Council of the Lithuanian Bar Association.

You have the right to find a suitable lawyer yourself. Someone who you authorise may also find a lawyer on your behalf.

Police officers must explain to you about your right to have a lawyer from the moment you are detained, or the start of your first interrogation. When officers are reading you your rights, you may state your wish to be represented by a lawyer during the criminal process. You will have to confirm this decision by signing the procedural document.

How can I find a lawyer if I am in detention?

If you have been detained, you will have to be questioned within 24 hours. Before the start of this interrogation, you will have to find a lawyer, or one will have to be appointed for you, as you are entitled to have a lawyer when any procedural acts, including interrogation, take place.

If you have been detained and you already have a lawyer, inform the officer that you want to contact your lawyer. You may also phone members of your family or friends and ask them to find a suitable lawyer for you.

If you do not want to find a lawyer yourself, and you do not speak the language of the procedure, the officer or the prosecutor will appoint a lawyer for you who will provide his services free of charge. In that case, you are not obliged to contact anyone yourself.

How to get state-guaranteed legal aid

If you do not have money to hire a lawyer, you may get legal aid free of charge. If you want to be represented by a lawyer providing state-guaranteed legal aid, you need to apply to any of the services in the five major cities that provide state-guaranteed legal aid.

If you do not speak Lithuanian, you are obliged to have a lawyer. If you have not found a lawyer yourself, the investigating officer or prosecutor will automatically appoint a lawyer who provides State-guaranteed legal aid. In this case, irrespective of whether you can afford to hire a lawyer or not, you will be provided with legal aid free of charge. But don’t forget that you may refuse the services of an appointed lawyer and find another at any point in the procedure.

Related links

Law on state-guaranteed legal aid

Last update: 18/02/2019

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