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Legal assistance in criminal cases    

 

For children

Legal Aid

All children and young people appearing before the Children’s Court who have been charged with a criminal offence are entitled to be represented by a lawyer appointed by Legal Aid NSW.

Children’s Legal Service is the specialist unit of Legal Aid NSW whose lawyers provide free advice and representation for  children and young people in criminal cases in the Children’s Court.  

Duty lawyers are available at Children’s Courts and Local Courts throughout the state.  Duty lawyers either work for Legal Aid or are private lawyers paid by Legal Aid to help you.

Legal Aid Youth Hotline - 1800 10 18 10

The Legal Aid Youth Hotline is staffed by Children's Legal Service solicitors who provide legal advice to young people under the age of 18 who have committed, or are suspected, of committing an offence. When a young person is detained by police they are entitled to speak to a legal representative and the police must assist them in doing so. A young person who is under 18 years may call for advice if they have, or think they might be, charged with an offence.

Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS)

The Aboriginal Legal Service provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with representation in court, advice and information, and referral to further support services. When an Aboriginal person is taken into custody, the police must notify the Aboriginal Legal Service to assist that person in obtaining early legal advice.

Law Society of NSW

If you do not wish to be represented by Legal Aid, the Law Society provides an online search to help you find a qualified lawyer suitable for your matter. You will need to pay fees for the lawyer. See the Law Society of NSW Solicitor Referral Service.

Children’s Court Assistance Program

The Children’s Court Assistance Program funds and monitors the performance of six Children’s Court Assistance Schemes providing services in eight locations in NSW. The Children’s Court Assistance Scheme provides services to children in criminal matters only.

The Schemes provide rosters of trained youth workers to work with young people and their families before, during and after the day of court. They provide:

  • information about court processes and outcomes
  • support for young people and their carers on the day at court
  • informal counselling and conflict resolution, and
  • referral to welfare services such as drug and alcohol programs, counselling and accommodation.

Shopfront Youth Legal Centre

The Shopfront Youth Legal Centre employs solicitors to provide legal representation and advice for homeless and disadvantaged youth.

Lawstuff & Courtstuff

The Lawstuff website of the National Children's and Youth Law Centre has legal information for young people. To view an interactive Who’s Who in a hearing involving a young person in a NSW criminal court, see Courtstuff.

For parents & carers

Your child is entitled to be represented by a lawyer from, or paid for by Legal Aid NSW. That lawyer may not be able to assist you with your legal enquiries. Should you wish to obtain legal advice about your child’s court proceedings, you may need to obtain that advice independently.

Community Legal Centres

Community Legal Centres offer a range of legal and related services to their client community. Possible services include but are not limited to:

  • Information and referral
  • Advice on legal matters
  • Legal casework and representation in targeted areas of law
  • Community legal education
  • Law reform and public policy development and advocacy.

For a list of Community Legal Centres in NSW, go to directory of Community Legal Centres.

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice NSW supervises and cares for young offenders in the community and in detention centres. The Juvenile Justice website provides answers to questions parents or families might have if their child is going to court.

LawAccess - 1300 888 529

LawAccess NSW is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, referrals and in some cases, advice. If you have a legal problem or have a question about the law, LawAccess NSW can give you legal information over the telephone, send you written information or refer you to another legal or related service.

For victims of crime and witnesses

The police officer in charge of your matter can provide you with information about how your matter will be dealt with at court and whether you will be required to attend court.

Victims Services

If you are a victim of crime, you can find out about your rights; where to access counselling and how to apply for compensation at Victims Services.

The Victims Services website has a section called Justice Journey which gives practical advice and contact details of service providers that can help and support you before, during and after the court process.

If you are an Aboriginal person or Torres Straits islander who is a victim of crime in NSW, you can call the special confidential Victim's Services Aboriginal Contact Line. For more information see Court support for Aboriginal people.

Victims and witnesses of Crime Court Support

Victims and Witnesses of Crime Court Support is an independent organisation that provides information for victims and witnesses and offers free court assistance and support.

Courtwise

Courtwise provides information about the NSW court system with specific information for victims and other witnesses. You can take a tour of a courtroom in the District Court and find out who's who in the courtroom. Please note that the Children's Court is a bit different. The Children's Court is a closed court, so only people involved in the particular case are allowed to attend, there is no jury and wigs are not worn.