welcome criminal lawyers

5. WHAT IF I CAN'T AFFORD THE SERVICES OF A LAWYER?

Your first option is to conduct your own defence. This is not recommended. A person not legally trained will not know how criminal procedure works. He will not know, for example, how to cross-examine, object to inadmissible evidence tendered by the state or how to present his own evidence.

If you can’t afford the services of a lawyer, you can approach The Legal Aid Board for assistance. There is a Legal Aid officer in most criminal courts, that will assist you in applying for legal aid. In smaller towns and rural areas, where The Legal Aid Board may not have offices, they will appoint a lawyer in private practice to act on your behalf.

You will be asked to explain your financial position, in what is called the ‘means test.’ In the event that you pass the ‘means test’, they will appoint a lawyer to represent you for your entire case.

In the event that a person does not qualify in terms of the 'means test', he/she can appeal the refusal of Legal Aid by providing reasons why the refusal will lead to “a substantial injustice.”

Lawyers from the Legal Aid Board will not undertake after-hour work on behalf of an accused, such as after-hour bail applications. For that you will require the services of a privately hired criminal defence lawyer.

The full details of procedures and requirements for Legal Aid can be found in the Legal Aid Guide.

In addition to the Right to a Lawyer, the accused has further rights.

These rights are extremely important and should always be invoked.

They include:

The Right to a Fair, Public and Speedy trial.

The Right to be presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt by the court.

The Right against Self- Incrimination. This means he is entitled to remain silent and not to provide evidence that can be used against him. An accused may, however, testify on his own behalf.

The Right to Confront Witnesses. An individual has the right to question and cross-examine every witness that testifies against him in trial.

The Right to Adduce Evidence. An accused may present his/her evidence to the court or to call forth all witnesses and evidence that could favourably determine the outcome of the case.

 

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