A A A Text Size

Services in Court

Duty Counsel at Provincial Court (Criminal Division) & (Youth Court) – Province Wide

Legal Aid provides a lawyer in the Provincial Court (Criminal Division) & (Youth Court) on days that the Court is dealing with first appearances and bail hearings. If you do not have a lawyer you can ask the Legal Aid Duty Counsel for assistance.

Duty Counsel can give you:

  • information on what you will be doing in court that day,
  • some summary advice on how you should proceed
  • speak to the Crown Attorney on your behalf,
  • speak for you to the Court to seek an adjournment,
  • make submissions to the Court on possible sentences if you chose to plead guilty, and
  • if you are being detained, assist you with a bail hearing.

When you get to court ask the court staff to direct you to the Duty Counsel lawyer. If you are in custody, ask an officer to let the Duty Counsel lawyer know that you wish to speak with him/her.

Duty Counsel is also available if you are arrested and brought to court on a week-end or statutory holiday. However, because hearings on week-ends and statutory holidays are done by one Court for the whole province, the Duty Counsel lawyer may have to speak with an arrested person on the phone and make any submissions to the Court on that person’s behalf by phone. It should be noted that the Court does not conduct bail hearings on weekends or statutory holidays so persons for whom a bail hearing is required will have their matters postponed to the first available week day.

Duty Counsel - Family Division (St. John’s only)

Legal Aid provides the services of lawyers (Duty Counsel) in the Family Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland in St. John’s to assist people appearing in Court but who do not already have a lawyer. Duty Counsel can give basic advice about legal matters that are before the court. They can explain your legal rights and obligations and provide information about:

  • How to respond to a court application;
  • What the terms of a proposed agreement would mean to you and your family, and the possible consequences;
  • What should be included in a court application and what documents you need to file with the court;
  • Time limits for filing documents with the court.

Duty Counsel can appear on your behalf on simple matters before the court on the day of your court appearance. They can:

  • Speak on your behalf on some matters, depending on the complexity of the matter;
  • Ask the court to postpone a matter for you;
  • Tell the court that you are in agreement with what the other person is asking for;
  • Speak to the other person or their lawyer to see if an agreement can be reached and/or advise the court whether or not an agreement has been reached;
  • Appear at the request of other lawyers to seek postponements by consent, or to file consent orders when an agreement has been reached.

Duty Counsel cannot conduct trials or appear on contested matters.

The Duty Counsel office also has a Client Services Office who can provide basic information about the court process, can help parties apply for a lawyer, and can help you fill out some of the court documents.

In order to speak to the Duty Counsel lawyer, you can call ahead of the day of your court matter to make an appointment. The Client Services Officer can be reached at 753-4614. You can also go to the court on the day of your matter at least one hour before your scheduled time. The Family Division is located at 21 King’s Bridge Road. When you get there, ask to speak to the Client Services Officer, who is located on the 1st floor


Mental Health Court

People with mental health challenges who have been charged with a criminal offence and who have to appear in the Provincial Court (Criminal Division) in St. John’s may be eligible to have their cases dealt with in the Mental Health Court. For more information visit the Provincial Court.

The Legal Aid Commission has a Mental Health Office which can provide assistance to people whose cases are being dealt with by that Court.