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Criminal law

Introduction

If you are eligible, Legal Aid NSW will pay for a private or inhouse lawyer to represent you under a grant of legal aid for your criminal matter.

Legal aid policies for criminal matters are organised by Court. To find out whether legal aid is available for your matter, look at which Court your matter is being heard in: Local Court, Drug Court, District or Supreme Court, Land and Environment Court or Children’s Court. If your matter is an appeal, look under Criminal Appeals.

Local Court

  1. Duty lawyers

    Duty Lawyers attend allLocal Courts in NSW to provide one-off assistance on the day. This is called a duty service. Duty lawyers can assist you in court on the day and can represent you in court if you are pleading guilty.

    Eligibility requirements:

    • Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.
  2. Criminal law matters in the Local Court

    Legal aid may be available to defend a criminal matter in the Local Court.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets,

    AND

    A term of imprisonment is a possible outcome,

    Or

    There are exceptional circumstances, for example, if you have difficulty dealing with the legal system because of a psychiatric condition, disability, intellectual impairment or other reason,

    Or

    Where an abuse of power by a person in a special position of authority (eg. a police officer) has resulted in the charge.

  3. Bail applications

    Legal aid is available to any person in custody to make their first bail application. There are no eligibility requirements for the first bail application for a person in custody.

    For subsequent bail applications, the following eligibility requirements apply:

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

  4. Community Corrections Orders or Conditional Release Orders

    Breaches

    Legal aid may be available if you have to go to court because of a breach of a Community Corrections Order or a Conditional Release Order.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    Variations or revocations

    Legal aid may be available to make an application to vary or revoke the conditions of a Community Corrections Order or Conditional Release Order.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment based on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success.

  5. Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders

    Applicants

    Legal aid may be available to make an application for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) if you are a person in need of protection.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    You are a victim of domestic violence.

    Defendants

    Legal aid may be available to defend an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) made against you.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    You are a victim of domestic violence yourself.

    Or

    There are exceptional circumstances, for example, you have difficulty dealing with the legal system because of a psychiatric condition, disability, intellectual impairment or other reason.

  6. Apprehended Personal Violence Orders

    Apprehended Personal Violence Orders

    Legal aid may be available to defend an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO).

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    There are exceptional circumstances, for example, you have difficulty dealing with the legal system because of a psychiatric condition, disability, intellectual impairment or other reason.

  7. Local Court committals

    Legal aid may be available in Local Court committal proceedings for criminal matters.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

Drug Court

Legal aid is available for all criminal law matters in the NSW Drug Court. There are no eligibility requirements.

District and Supreme Court

  1. Criminal law matters in the District or Supreme Court

    Legal Aid may be available for indictable criminal matters in the Supreme Court or District Court.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

  2. Bail applications

    Legal aid may be available to a person in custody for a bail application in the Supreme Court.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success.

  3. Community Correction Order or Conditional Release Order

    Legal aid may be available for an application to vary or revoke a Community Correction Order or Conditional Release Order.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success.

Criminal appeals

  1. Annulment of a conviction or sentence in the Local Court

    Legal aid may be available for an application in the Local Court to have your conviction or sentence annulled (declared invalid).

    Eligibility requirements:

    A term of imprisonment is a possible outcome

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment based on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success.

  2. Appeals from the Local Court to the District Court

    Legal aid may be available to appeal a conviction or sentence in the District Court.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that it is an appropriate use of funds.

  3. Application to review a conviction or sentence

    Legal aid may be available to make an initial application to review your conviction or sentence.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that it is an appropriate use of funds.

  4. Appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeal or High Court

    Legal aid may be available for an appeal to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal or the High Court.

    Eligibility requirements:  

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that it would be an appropriate use of funds.

Land and Environment Court

  1. Defending a prosecution

    Legal aid may be available to defend a prosecution in Land and Environment Court.

    Eligibility requirements:

    A term of imprisonment is a possible outcome,

    OR

    There are exceptional circumstances for example, you have difficulty dealing with the legal system because of a psychiatric condition, disability, intellectual impairment or other reason

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

  2. Appealing an Interlocutory Judgement or Order

    Legal aid may be available to appeal against an Interlocutory Judgement or Order made by a Judge in the Land and Environment Court.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will assess your income and assets.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success.

    AND

    Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that it would be an appropriate use of funds.

Children's Court

Legal aid is available to a person who is under the age of 18 for criminal matters in the Children’s Court of NSW. There are no eligibility requirements.

  1. Restorative justice programs

    Legal aid is available to a person who is under the age of 18 to participate in a restorative justice program.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW must be satisfied that it is appropriate in the circumstances that you have legal representation.

  2. Committals

    Legal aid is available to a person under the age of 18 in committal proceedings. There are no eligibility requirements.

  3. District and Supreme Court

    Legal aid is available to a person under the age of 18 for any criminal law matter in the District and Supreme Court. There are no eligibility requirements.

  4. Criminal Appeals

    Legal aid is available to a person under the age of 18 to appeal a conviction or sentence in the District Court, Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeal or High Court.

    Eligibility requirements:

    Legal Aid NSW will make an assessment on the nature of your legal problem and the prospects of success.

Do you have a fine?

Legal aid is usually not available to defend fines in courts or tribunals. If you have a fine, please visit the FineFixer website at https://nsw.finefixer.org.au/. The FineFixer tool has useful information about how to deal with your fines problem.

Criminal matters legal aid is not available for

Apprehended Personal Violence Orders
Legal aid is not available to make an application for an apprehended personal violence order (APVO) unless the person in need of protection is under the age of 18.

Commencing orders in the Local Court
Legal aid is not available to commence proceedings in the Local Court except for apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) proceedings or apprehended personal violence order (APVO) unless the person in need of protection is under the age of 18.

Driver licence disqualification
Legal aid is not available to make an application to remove a driver licence disqualification.

Proceeds of crime
Legal aid is not available in proceedings under the Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime Act 1989 (NSW) and other legislation related to tainted monies/property.

Victims compensation
Legal aid is not available for respondents in Victims Compensation matters in a court or tribunal.