Victoria Legal Aid

Criminal law

We provide information, advice and representation to people facing criminal charges and advocates for change in the criminal justice system to benefit clients and the community.

Our criminal law work aims to provide access to quality advice and representation for people charged with offences who cannot otherwise afford legal assistance. We primarily focus on those who are disadvantaged or at risk of social exclusion.

We can offer free legal advice and in some cases help at court and legal representation. We aim to ensure that clients are treated with dignity and are well informed and guided appropriately through the criminal justice system.

As well as helping individual clients, we advocate for justice and law reform to influence the criminal justice system to provide timely justice, the fair hearing of charges and appropriate outcomes.

Our criminal law work has four main focus areas. Services offered within these areas are delivered either by our in-house lawyers or private practitioners working in partnership with Victoria Legal Aid.

Appellate crime

We strive to maintain client and public confidence in the criminal justice system by ensuring that cases demonstrating legal errors and miscarriages of justice can be tested by higher courts through expert representation and by contributing to the development of the law through senior appellate courts.

Indictable crime

We provide high-quality legal advice and representation to people facing serious state and Commonwealth criminal charges including homicide, sexual offences, terrorism and drug importation. We provide specialist duty lawyer services at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and expert assistance to people who are responding to applications pursuant to the Required Serious Offenders Act 2018External Link . We also apply our specialist knowledge and experience to law reform and policy development, to promote fair and just outcomes for all accused people.

Summary crime

We help people charged with summary crimes to achieve timely and appropriate outcomes by targeting finite resources to a range of interventions based on need, and by influencing the criminal justice system to be efficient, fair and respectful to accused people.

Youth crime

We ensure that children charged with crimes are treated fairly and that outcomes have a therapeutic focus by providing expert legal advice and representation in a way that reflects the unique status and vulnerability of children.

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 18 March 2022

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