Victoria Legal Aid

More information about getting Help Before Court

Find out more about how we can help you go to court and about the process.

How we can help

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

These are the ways we can help:

  • give you information about the court process and what to expect
  • give you referrals to other places that can help you
  • refer you to get legal advice from a lawyer
  • have a lawyer join you in court on your court date

Speak with our Intake Team to find out how we can help. You can do this by asking for Help Before Court.

Criminal charges we can help with

  • charges with other people involved such as assault, stalking or threat to kill
  • breaches of orders such as a family violence intervention orders
  • charges involving property such as property damage, burglary, theft, possess a weapon that is prohibited like a knife or gun
  • charges involving illegal drugs like possessing ice.

We can help with some driving charges, especially if you have been found guilty of previous driving charges. For example, we may give legal advice on charges like driving on a suspended or disqualified licence.

We cannot help if your case involves a fine you decided to take to court.

Note this is not a full list and should be used as a guide only. For more information, speak to our Intake Team by asking for Help Before Court.

Will a lawyer join me in court?

If you are eligible to speak with a lawyer, they will let you know if they will join you in court.

The lawyer will consider:

  • the likely sentence you will receive if you were found guilty
  • if you've had previous criminal charges
  • your personal circumstances.

Can I ask for Help Before Court for someone else?

We need to speak with the person who has court for criminal charges. We need their consent to provide you with most information.

We recommend you help them complete the form that asks for our help or call our Legal Help phone line on 1300 792 387.

What if I miss your call?

If you miss our call, we will leave you a message and send you an SMS with our contact number. Please call us back as soon as possible. The Intake Team will contact you up to three times and leave a message.

If we do not hear from you, we may assume you no longer want our help.

My court date is in less than 2 weeks and I want to speak to a lawyer. What can I do?

Here are some options to get help:

  1. Go to court on your court date. If you do not have a lawyer, we provide free lawyers at court. They cannot speak to everyone. To decide if you are eligible, we will consider your criminal charges and personal circumstances such as income. If you are not eligible to speak to a lawyer, we will give you legal information.
  2. Ask the court to change your court date and use our online form to ask for help.

How can I change my court date?

You may be able to change your court date. This is called an adjournment. You can ask for this:

  1. at the counter at court on the day
  2. by calling the courtExternal Link as soon as possible.

If you are on bail, then your bail will need to be extended.

You must have a reason for changing your court date. For example, you may ask to adjourn your case to get legal advice from a lawyer. Work commitments may not be considered a good enough reason to change your court date.

You can tell the court that you contacted Victoria Legal Aid, and more time was needed to arrange for you to get legal advice from a lawyer.

If your court date changes and you want our help, you should fill out our form again to ask for our Help Before Court. You should ask for our help as soon as you get the new court date. This will give us time to arrange for you to get legal advice from a lawyer.

Can I get help at court?

We have lawyers at most Magistrates’ Courts in Victoria. They are called ‘duty lawyers’. They can help you on your court date if you haven’t already got legal advice.

This is a free service. The help you get will depend on your criminal charges and your personal circumstances such as income. Not everyone is eligible for legal advice and representation in court.

See help at court for more information about duty lawyers.

More about going to court

More about preparing documents

It can help to bring support documents to court. You can organise:

  • character references from your employer, family or people who know you well
  • reports from doctors or counsellors you have seen
  • certificates or awards for work, courses or other things you have done
  • a receipt if you had to pay for any damages you caused
  • details of your financial situation.

Bring at least two copies of any documents if you can.

Who else can help?

If you want to get help from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal service, you can contact the Victorian Aboriginal Legal ServiceExternal Link .

Ask for Help Before Court

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 12 January 2024