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Help at court

How do I find the duty lawyer at court?

When you arrive at court, go to the front counter (usually called the registry) and let them know you’d like to see the duty lawyer. They will give you directions to find the duty lawyer at your local court.

Criminal law duty lawyer

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence and need to appear in a Magistrates or Childrens Court, our duty lawyers are available at court to give you free, independent legal advice and representation.

If you want to plead guilty to the charges, the duty lawyer will take your instructions and make submissions to the court on your behalf. But if you want to defend the charges, the duty lawyer cannot represent you. They will ask the magistrate to adjourn the matter to another date and they will apply for legal aid on your behalf to see if you are eligible for a lawyer to represent you.

Duty lawyers do not represent people charged with drink driving or simple traffic offences, unless the person is at risk of going to jail. Duty lawyers are selected from our in-house legal practice or private law firms.

The duty lawyer can usually give you advice and represent you for:

  • guilty pleas for less complex matters
  • putting your case off until another court date (adjournment)
  • Bail
  • changing your bail conditions
  • bail breaches
  • probation breaches
  • Extradition proceedings

The duty lawyer can't represent you for:

  • a first or second drink or drug driving offence (unless it’s likely you will go to jail)
  • minor traffic offences (eg speeding or careless driving)
  • civil matters
  • domestic violence order applications (in some courts we have a domestic violence duty lawyer)
  • a committal hearing or a trial
  • complex sentence hearings

For more information see—Criminal law duty lawyer

Family law duty lawyer

Legal Aid Queensland provides a family law duty lawyer service in the Brisbane Family and Federal Circuit Courts. The service visits other Queensland towns to coincide with Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court's circuit dates.

The service gives basic legal help to people who are representing themselves before the Family and Federal Circuit Courts, including free legal advice. In special circumstances and subject to demand, the duty lawyers can represent people in court for adjournments, short procedural mentions or they can help with negotiations about consent orders for children or property matters. The family law duty lawyers can't take on contested hearings or represent people at a trial.

For more information see—Family law duty lawyer.

Domestic violence duty lawyer

Our domestic violence duty lawyers provide free legal information and advice to applicants and respondents in domestic and family violence matters, and help people fill out forms and documents needed for that day in court. They’ll also talk to you about whether you might be eligible for ongoing legal representation from Legal Aid Queensland. The service is available across Queensland at these Magistrates Courts:

  • Brisbane
  • Bundaberg
  • Richlands
  • Beenleigh
  • Southport
  • Caboolture
  • Ipswich
  • Toowoomba
  • Maroochydore
  • Rockhampton
  • Mackay
  • Mount Isa
  • Townsville
  • Cairns

Child protection duty lawyer

The child protection duty lawyer service provides legal services to parents involved in child protection matters who are appearing in court that day, but do not have legal representation. The duty lawyers give legal advice and help with completing some forms and documents. The service is offered one day each week at these Magistrates Courts:

  • Townsville
  • Cairns

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service

The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Assistance Service offers free and confidential help to all women who attend court for domestic and family violence matters, including those who are applying for or responding to a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO).

 Our Domestic Violence Prevention Workers can:

  • help you access the court’s safety facilities
  • explain what DVPOs are, conditions of DVPOs and what to do if an order is breached
  • help you complete an application for a DVPO or make changes (variations) to an existing DVPO
  • explain options for you and the other person, and the consequences of different options
  • explain the court process
  • provide you with support and information in court and throughout the court process
  • help you with safety planning
  • refer you to relevant legal and community services for your situation
  • provide you with crisis counselling and emotional support
  • assist you with completing applications for legal aid
  • advocate on your behalf with the police prosecutor, court staff and others

Application Assistance Program

The Application Assistance Program helps women apply for domestic violence protection orders at the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Our Domestic Violence Prevention Workers can:

  • help you prepare an application for a DVPO or make changes (variations) to an existing DVPO
  • help you lodge a DVPO application at the Brisbane Magistrates Court
  • provide support for you in court
  • help you with risk assessment and safety planning
  • refer you to relevant legal and community services for your situation

The Domestic Violence Prevention Workers are located on level 6 at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday, Thursday and Friday from 9am to 1pm.

No appointment is necessary on these days, unless an interpreter is required. At all other times the Domestic Violence Prevention Workers can be contacted at our Brisbane office. To arrange a time to meet, call (07) 3238 3562.

If you're in danger and need urgent help you should call police on 000. If you would like information about accommodation in a women’s refuge you can call DV Connect on 1800 811 811.
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