Lawyers that are available to provide initial legal advice and assistance to unrepresented people appearing before criminal or youth courts. Generally, an accused person can spend some time with duty counsel before their hearing to learn about the nature of the charges and expected process. Duty counsel can speak to the Crown before the hearing to explore a negotiated plea or mitigating circumstances. Counsel may also plead with the Judge for release pending trial or an adjournment pending formal legal representation. However, duty counsel lawyers cannot represent a client at trial. The services of duty counsel are free and available to anyone without formal application and regardless of financial circumstances. Individuals going to trial who cannot afford legal representation must make an application for a legal aid lawyer.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.