One of the most important functions of the legal aid service is the protection of the defendant in criminal proceedings.
Legal aid service shall provide free legal aid in criminal cases if:
- An insolvent defendant is asking for the appointment of the defence counsel.
- There are prerequisites for the appointment of mandatory defense and the defendant has not contracted a counsel of his choice;
Everyone shall be presumed innocent, until his guilt is established by judgment of conviction passed by the court. No one is obliged to prove his innocence. The burdain of proof is on the side of the prosecutor.
The defendant has the right to:
- have a lawyer
- refrain from answering questions and use right to silence
- request free medical examination immediately upon arrest or imprisonment and obtain relevant report in writing.
- Conduct full scale investigation himself or through lawyer, which implies following:
- Obtain and present evidence
- Request the conduct of an investigative action and request evidence in his favor
- Request the presence of the lawyer in an investigative action conducted upon his/her motion.
- Use the service of the intepretor at the expense of the State, if he/she does not speak the State language or has such physical defect, which precludes communication without the assistance of the interpreter.
- Notify his family member or close relative of the fact of his arrest or imprisonment and his whereabouts and condition.
- Request and obtain the compensation of damages inflicted by unlawful procedural action.
- Inspect case files and obtain copies for free
- Participate in the investigation and trial of his case
- Lodge a complaint against the decisions of the investigator, prosecutor, judge
- The defendant has the right to abstain from participation in investigation or trial of his case.
- Constitution of Georgia
- European Convention of Human Rights and Freedoms
- Criminal Code of Georgia
- Criminal procedure code of Georgia
- Law of Georgia on Legal Aid
- Law of Georgia on the Bar
- Government Decree N. 424 on the “Approval of the Procedure for the Determination of Insolvency of the Person”
- Decision N. 20 of the Legal Aid Board on the Approval of the Regulation of Lega Aid
- Decision of the Legal Aid Board N. 27 on the “Approval of Criteria for Legal Aid as stipulated under Art. 5 (3) of the Law on Legal Aid”.
- Professional Code of Ethics of Lawyers.
Scope of Service
Legal aid service provides legal defense to defendant/covict in any stage of the legal proceedings. In the course of the legal defense provided to the defendant, the public lawyer of legal aid service, as a rule conducts following activities:
- Meets with the client, explains case-files, analyses the defense and prosecution evidence and provides relevant consultations.
- Drafts legal documents related to the case – statements, complaints, applications, motions, etc.
- In cases envisaged by law, participates procedural actions, conducts investigative actions.
- Prepares for the court session, namely
- Collects case materials and evidence;
- Searches for witnesses and examines them;
- Examines and analyses the information and materials related to the case;
- Prepares the introductory and conclusive speech;
- Participates in the court hearings and presents evidence;
- Informs the client and in case of necessity his/her relatives/acquaintances about his involvement in the case;
- Exercises other powers conferred by law.
As all services, legal aid is provided to the defendants in criminal cases for free.
Legal Aid Service provides free legal aid in criminal cases if:
- Insolvent defendant/convict is asking for the appointment of defene counsel
- There is a case of mandatory defense in cases stipulated by criminal procedure code and defendant does not a privately retained lawyer.
1. Criteria for the insolvency.
A person is considered to be insolvent and entitled to use legal services on state’s expense if he/she is a member of a family registered in the unified database of socially vulnerable families, whose socioeconomic index is equal or below 70 000.
In addition, person is considered to be insolvent and has right to use the legal services on the state’s expense in case he/she is a member of a family registered in the unified database of socially vulnerable families, whose socioeconomic index is equal or below 100 000 and belongs to one of the categories listed below:
- Member of a multi-child family with more than 3 children under age of 18;
- War and the Military Veterans;
- Person with limited capacity status under age of 18;
- Adults with significant and severe expression of disabilities;
- A person with significant, severe or moderate expression of disabilities, in case it started from childhood;
- Orphan under the age of 18;
- People displaced as a result of the aggression by The Russian Federation against Georgia;
The legal services can be provided in special circumstances to those people who are not registered in the unified database of socially vulnerable families but due to difficult social-economical condition cannot afford to cover the expenses of legal assistance. This is regulated by the Decision #27 of the Legal Aid Service Board adopted on September 9, 2015. This condition applies to the persons who belong to the following categories:
- Persons who met the criteria of insolvency and their data is available at the archives of unified database of socially vulnerable families;
- Persons whose difficult social-economical condition is proved by the certificate issued by the local self-governing institutions;
- Persons with incurable and serious disease;
- Single mother who has juvenile children;
- Person acknowledged as a victim of political repressions;
- Lawyer employed by the Legal Aid Service, his/her family member and relative;
- Family who lost bread-winner;
- Beneficiaries of the Program on Rehabilitation and Resocialization of Former Prisoners of LEPL “Crime Prevention Center”;
- Beneficiaries of international humanitarian union “Catharsis” (Charity House).
2. Mandatory defense
The defendant shall be appointed mandatory defense 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 appearing at the law enforcement body;
- If she or he has been expelled from the courtroom;
- If she or he is an unidentified person;
- In specific cases stipulated by the Georgian Procedural Criminal Code.