Get help at court
We have duty lawyers to assist people charged with criminal offences by the police in Magistrates Court and Children’s Court locations throughout WA. If you are in prison, police lock-up, or the cells at court, you need to tell the officers if you want to speak with the duty lawyer.
Because there will often be many people wanting to speak to the duty lawyer, appointments are often short. That might mean you do not get full advice the first time you see a duty lawyer.
A fee of $20 applies to see a duty lawyer in the Magistrates Court ($5 for concession card holders). It is free to speak to the duty lawyer if you are in custody or prison, or appearing in the Children's Court.
Duty lawyers are not available for matters in the District Court, the Supreme Court (except Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court), or in front the President of the Children’s Court. If you are in those courts and do not have a lawyer, contact us about applying for a grant of aid.
The duty lawyer can assist with traffic offences if:
- you are appearing in a Magistrates Court outside of the metropolitan area
- you are appearing in the Children’s Court (in any location)
- the duty lawyer is assisting you with criminal charges at the same time, or
- you are in a general arrest/remand court list and a sentence of imprisonment is a possible maximum penalty for one of your traffic offences.
If you are not sure, you can ask to see the duty lawyer on the day. Please understand that the duty lawyer might not be able to help with your traffic charges.
We have a duty lawyer service at the Family Court of WA in Perth, called Family Court Services. The service helps people with immediate family law needs, who need urgent advice or who have a court date that day and are not able to access a lawyer in time. The focus of Family Court Services is on parenting arrangements and child contact, including advice on recovery orders. It may help with property settlement issues where families are experiencing family violence.
Family Court Services also provides FASS (Family Advocacy and Support Service). FASS provides:
- legal and social support services for families who are experiencing family violence; and
- advice, and in some cases court representation, to help families manage their legal matters in family court, protection and care and family violence restraining order proceedings
FASS duty lawyer and social support services are provided by Legal Aid WA on Family Court Magistrates Circuits in regional areas including Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Broome, Albany and Bunbury.
We have a duty lawyer service at the Perth Children’s Court to assist people respond to applications for child protection orders made by the Department of Communities - Child Protection and Family Support. We mainly work with the parents of the children, but can sometimes help other people involved in the case if they have a direct and significant interest in the wellbeing of the child.
If your matter is not being heard in Perth, see if your local Legal Aid WA office provides assistance with protection and care applications, including duty lawyer services.
There is a duty lawyer from our Domestic Violence Legal Unit (DVLU) available at Perth Magistrates Court each morning. The DVLU duty lawyer can give advice and assistance to people in situations of family violence about applying for an FVRO.
A DVLU duty lawyer attends Joondalup Magistrates Court to assist FVRO applicants if an objection to the interim FVRO has been lodged with the court.
If your matter is not being heard in Perth, see if your local Legal Aid WA office provides assistance with FVRO applications, including duty lawyer services.
Reviewed: 12 April 2018