Criminal Legal Aid



Criminal Legal Aid is government funding from the Ministry of Justice to pay for legal help for people who cannot afford a lawyer. Legal Aid is an important part of New Zealand’s justice system as it ensures that people are not denied justice because they cannot afford a lawyer.

Can I get Criminal Legal Aid?

Legal aid may be available if:

  • you are charged with an offence that could be punished with a prison term of 6 months or more.
  • you are appealing your conviction or sentence for 1 of these offences.
  • you are appearing before the parole board (in some cases).

Legal aid is less likely to be available for minor charges as a duty lawyer can help you with these matters. However, legal aid may be available for these cases if you face a special barrier of disability, such as difficulties with reading or writing, or mental illness.

Get assistance from a duty lawyer for minor charges

Am I eligible for Legal Aid?

Whether you can get criminal legal aid depends on your income, assets and the charges you’re facing or the type of case you’re involved in.

In general, legal aid may be granted if:

  • you can’t afford your own lawyer; and
  • either you’re charged with a criminal offence and could face a prison term of 6 months or more or the interests of justice require that you be granted legal aid.

Financial Eligibility for Legal Aid

To determine whether you can afford a lawyer, Legal Aid Services will consider:

  • How much you earn before tax;
  • The value of your assets, such as how much property you own and any vehicles; and
  • How many financially dependent children you have.

If you have a partner, their finances will also be taken into account.

How do I apply for Legal Aid?

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence, you can:

You should apply for legal aid as soon as you have been charged or received a summons to appear in court. Do not wait until your first day in court.


If you wish to apply for Legal Aid, please find a Criminal Legal Aid Form here

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