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 will 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.
Unless you have your own lawyer, the best way to find one is to check out the official website of the Chamber of Advocates. If you are in custody you will need to ask for assistance to access this website since internet is not readily available.
The duty advocate is an independent lawyer who is paid for by the State. He is available to provide advice 24 hours a day. He will advise you about your rights and ensure that you do not do or say anything that could harm your case.
You will however only be entitled to a lawyer free of charge if you cannot afford to pay for one. No particular means test is carried out and the main criterion as to whether you are entitled to legal aid is whether you work or not. If you do not work, the State will provide you with the duty advocate both prior to your interrogation by the police and during your appearances in court.
If you appear in Court without a lawyer, the Court will suggest that you engage one unless you insist that you do not need one.
If you can afford your own lawyer, you will have to engage one because you will not be entitled to legal aid. It is advisable to establish the fees with the lawyer of your own choice before engaging him.
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