Victoria Legal Aid

Help before court – for criminal charges

If your court date is in 14 days or more, you may be able to get legal advice from a lawyer to help you prepare.

What is Help Before Court?

If your court date is in 14 days or more, you may qualify for legal advice from a lawyer to help you prepare for court.

Our Help Before Court service is offered for criminal charges in the Magistrates’ Court or Children’s Court. We can only provide legal advice to those who need it most. This depends on your income and legal matter.

It’s free to request Help Before Court. If your court date is in 14 days or more, fill out a few simple details using our online toolExternal Link .

What happens when I ask for Help Before Court?

A legal assistant will call you to ask a few questions about your income and legal problem to see how we can help you. We may also request your brief of evidence from Victoria Police or Corrections Victoria.

If you qualify for legal advice:

  • we will either make an appointment for you to speak with a lawyer about your case before your court date, or
  • send your brief of evidence to the duty lawyer on your court date where you will get legal advice on the day.

Depending on your situation, the lawyer may also represent you in court.

If we cannot provide legal advice, a legal assistant will give you general information and resources to help you represent yourself. You can also access our online information about going to court for a criminal charge.

Can I get help in my language?

Our staff speak many languages. If we do not speak your language, we can arrange an interpreter for free.

If you have completed the Help Before Court online toolExternal Link and want an interpreter, tell us when we call.

See a list of our available languages and interpreters.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at

Reviewed 09 February 2023

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