Victoria Legal Aid

Help Before Court for criminal charges

Our Help Before Court service can help you prepare for court if you have criminal charges.

Our Help Before Court service is:

How we help depends on your criminal charges, your court date and your personal circumstances such as income.

When you ask for Help Before Court, someone from our Intake Team (who is not a lawyer) will call you and say how we can help you prepare for court.

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How Help Before Court works

If your court date is more than 2 weeks away, our Intake Team can refer you to a lawyer for legal advice.

Our lawyers can only provide legal advice to those who need it most. You are eligible for legal advice from a lawyer if you:

  • have court in more than 2 weeks
  • meet our income test, for example if you are on Centrelink or a low income
  • and your criminal charge is one that we can help with

The same eligibility applies to getting legal advice and help at court.

See more information about getting Help Before Court.

Get help if your case is in the Children’s Court

We prioritise children and young people. If your criminal case is in the Children's Court (usually for people between the ages of 10 and 19), you will be referred to a lawyer for legal advice.

Get help in your language

Intepreter logo

We can arrange a free and confidential interpreter who speaks your language.

Let us know what language you speak, and if you want an interpreter. You can tell us when we call. You do not need to be an Australian citizen to ask for our help.

We have written information about our services in other languages.

Get help if you are deaf or find it hard to hear

You can contact us using the National Relay Service or message our online Legal Help Chat.

If you ask for Help Before Court using our online form, we can arrange an Auslan interpreter for free.

See more about getting support if you are deaf or find it hard to hear or speak on the phone.

Support if you are stressed about court

Lifeline External Link offers 24-hour crisis support for Australians experiencing emotional distress. You can reach out to their trained crisis support officers:

Kids HelplineExternal Link also offers 24-hour support for children and young people between the ages of 5 and 25 years old:

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 04 February 2024