Legal Aid Service is a state organization which provides free legal assistance for socially vulnerable citizens who would not be able to pay for attorney’s services otherwise. The Legal Aid Service was created in July 2007 and as of today it covers almost the whole country through legal aid bureaus and consultation centers.
Free legal aid provides services such as:
- Free legal counseling on any legal issues;
- Compiling legal documents (filing applications, mediations etc);
- Services of attorney free of charge during criminal proceedings for the accused, convict and acquitted
- Service of the attorney on cases involving non-consensual psychiatric treatment;
- Services of lthe attorney for such administrative offenses which may entail arrest;
- Service of the attorney for those accused and convicts subjected to disciplinary proceedings in penitentiary institutions;
- Service of the attorney free of charge on specific cases of civil and administrative laws;
- Representation in administrative bodies. Insolvency
The Legal Aid Service provides free legal service through its bureaus, consultation centers and a pool of invited pro bono lawyers.
Representation in the court
Who can qualify as a beneficiary for free legal aid
The accused and convicts registered in the unified database of socially vulnerable households with the ranking score of 70 000 and less, as well as individuals falling under specific categories with the ranking score of 100 000 or less are eligible to free legal counseling at the Legal Aid Service.
In exceptional cases the director of the Legal Aid Service may assign a public attorney to the individual who is not insolvent, but, cannot afford counseling services because of poor socio-economic standing provided that such inability is well documented.
Protection of the minors
From 1 January 2016 the Legal Aid Service provides free legal counseling to the minor accused/convict, acquitted and victim. A minor witness can exercise the right if she/he proves to be insolvent. The accused from 18 to 21 years old have the right to exercise this right.
Compulsory counseling shall be assigned to the accused if:
- She or he is has not reached the full age;
- She or he is not familiar with the language of the criminal law;
- She or he suffers physical or mental disorder preventing him/her from self-defense;
- If the court has made a decision on psychiatric-forensic testing;
- If a verdict implies a life term under the Criminal Code of Georgia for a crime she/he committed;
- If she or he is engaged in negotiations on plea baraining;
- If the criminal case is heard by a jury panel;
- If she or he refrains from announcing at the law enforcement body;
- If she or he has been expelled from the court;
- If she or he is an unidentified person;
- In a specific cases stipulated by the Georgian Procedural Criminal Code
Legal aid for prisoners
From 1 October 2010 legal aid is available to those accused and convicts who are subject to disciplinary proceedings in penitentiary institutions.
In specific cases defined by the law, while determining a disciplinary sanction against the accused/convict, the latter has the right to use services of a translator and a lawyer. If the accused/convict is insolvent and therefore cannot afford fees of defender, he or she will be assigned a state-appointed lawyer.
From 1 March 2011, the Legal Aid Service provides its assistance for administrative offences which may entail arrest as a form of a sanction.
Non-consensual psychiatric treatment
From August 2010 the Legal Aid Service provides free legal counseling to cases of placing an individual in a psychiatric care facility for non-consensual treatment and/or prolonging the in-patient stay reviewed by the court.
Civil and administrative cases
From 15 April 2015, pursuant to the Law of Georgia on Legal Aid, Article 231 the Service provides legal assistance to insolvent individuals on the following issues of the Civil and Administrative law considering a level of difficulty and significance attached to cases:
- Disputes within the realm of the family law (divorce, child support, defending interests of minors etc);
- Disputes within the inheritance law;
- Social assistance and pensions;
- Rights of internally displaced persons;
- Healthcare and patients’ rights;
- Social protection of veterans of war and families of those who fell in action;
- Social protection of victims of political repressions
Cases of individuals with psychosocial needs
From 1 April 2015 legal aid is provided to those individuals with psychosocial needs whose applications for being recognized as recipients of support are being reviewed by the court.
Protection of victims of domestic violence
From 1 January 2015 the Legal Aid Agency provides lawyer’s service for free to insolvent victim of domestic violence if she/he requires so.
Protection of asylum seekers
From 1 January 2016 the Legal Aid Service provides lawyer’s services to those asylum seekers whose disputes for granting, suspending or terminating a refugee or humanitarian status, or asylum related issues are going to be reviewed by the court regardless of their solvency.
It is compulsory to assign a attorney to an individual involved in civil or administrative cases if:
- She/he is undergoing a compulsory psychiatric care;
- She/he is to be recognized as a support receiver;
- She/he is seeking asylum
Procedure of assigning a lawyer
- The beneficiary has the right to apply to the Legal Aid Service either personally or through his/her relative or legal representative, with the request to assign a public attorney for criminal, civil and administrative cases.
- For an individual to be assigned an attorney, she/he needs to apply to a head of the legal service bureau or a counselor at the counseling center in writing to justify the necessity for assigning a lawyer, or outline social-economic conditions to demonstrate that she/he or her/his close relative cannot afford a lawyer at their own expenses.
- A public lawyer, based on circumstances of the case in question, shall be apointed immediately or within two working days maximum from the submission of the application
- There are three following conditions to be met for assigning a lawyer to civil/administrative cases: an applicant must be insolvent, the case in question must be complicated enough and a subject of the legal dispute should fall within the discretion of the Legal Aid Service
- The Legal Aid Service will not assign a lawyer if an applicant already has a lawyer under another agreement.
Legal counseling implies the provision of a legal advice on any issue free of charge.
There is no need to produce any document to the Legal Aid Service in order to receive a consultation. However, in order to benefit from full available service, it is better to submit documentation concerning a legal issue that the beneficiary is dealing with. Free legal consultation provided by the Legal Aid Service is accessible to any individual. Legal documents may also be prepared as part of the counseling provided that the beneficiary meets the criteria of insolvency.
Online consultations are available through Skype and Facebook:
- Skype contact: legalaid.ge
- Facebook page: www.facebook.com/legalaid.ge
Compiling legal documents
Legal documents imply all necessary documents (a claim, complaint, an application, plea, Shesagebeli etc) which are necessary for representing the beneficiary’s legitimate interests in an administrative bodies, court or other establishments.