Legal help in criminal cases
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 Scheme
The Children’s Court Assistance Scheme funds four Community Legal Centres (CLC's) to operate Children's Court Assistance Schemes in seven Children's Court 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.
Youth Law Australia
Youth Law Australia is a national, technology based community legal centre which provides free legal help and information to children and young people.
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.
Youth Justice NSW supervises and cares for young offenders in the community and in detention centres. The Youth 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.
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.
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.