You may be able to get help from duty counsel in Provincial Court if you:
- are charged with a crime, and
- can't get a legal aid lawyer, or
- haven't yet applied for legal aid.
Duty counsel can provide you with advice about:
- the charges against you,
- court procedures, and
- your legal rights (including the right to counsel and the right to apply for legal aid).
Duty counsel can also represent you at a bail hearing. If there's time, duty counsel can help with a guilty plea.
Who is eligible for duty counsel services?
You don't have to be financially eligible to get criminal duty counsel services. However, you must meet Legal Aid BC coverage and financial eligibility requirements to receive ongoing representation.
Where to find duty counsel
Duty counsel is available at courthouses throughout the province. For duty counsel hours in your area:
- Contact your local court registry. (Click the location nearest you to find the court's address, phone number, and hours.)
- Look in the blue pages of your phone book under "Government of British Columbia — Court Services."
If you identify as Indigenous or Aboriginal, you may be able to have your bail or sentencing hearing in First Nations/Indigenous Court. Courts are located in:
The Provincial Court of BC website gives the dates when First Nations/Indigenous Court sits in each location: Duncan, Kamloops, Merritt, New Hazelton, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Prince George, and Williams Lake.
If you identify as Aboriginal or Indigenous, ask your lawyer about having Gladue principles applied to your case and what's best for you.