Defendants (criminal proceedings)


It is very important that you get legal advice if you are somehow involved in a criminal process. The factsheets tell you when and in what circumstances you are entitled to be represented by a lawyer. They also tell you what a lawyer will do for you. This general factsheet tells you how to find a lawyer and how the costs of the lawyer will be met if you cannot afford to pay for the lawyer’s services.

Content provided by:

Finding a lawyer

You have the right to be represented by a lawyer of your own choice. The lawyer must be entitled to appear before the Danish courts. You can find a list of all Danish lawyers here. On that website you can also see whether a lawyer specialises in criminal law, tax law or any other branch of law that is relevant to your case.

For each court in Denmark, the Danish Ministry of Justice has appointed a group of local lawyers with special experience in criminal cases. These lawyers are independent lawyers who run their own private law firms. The court can give you a list of these lawyers. If you do not ask for a specific lawyer, one of the lawyers on this list will be assigned to your case if the appointment of a legal representative is mandatory, for example if the police take you into custody.

Paying for a lawyer

If the court has appointed a lawyer for you, his or her fee will usually be paid from public funds. In connection with its ruling, the court will also determine the lawyer's fee. The fee will be determined on the basis of rates used by the courts in all criminal cases in which a legal representative has been appointed, whether or not it is a lawyer chosen by you.

The court will also decide who is ultimately to pay the lawyer's fee. If you are found guilty, you will usually have to pay the amount of the fee to the public authorities (the State of Denmark). The State will seek to recover as much of the amount as you can afford to pay.

If you are acquitted, or if the court's ruling is substantially more lenient than anticipated by the prosecutor, the court will typically order the authorities to pay the lawyer's fees and expenses. The court may also choose to let the authorities pay part of the lawyer's fees and expenses. This could be the case if court hearings were held in vain due to circumstances beyond your control.

You may appeal against the decision on the amount of the lawyer's fee and the ultimate liability for its payment to the high court within two weeks of the decision.

It is not possible to apply for free legal aid in criminal proceedings, and such legal aid will normally not be covered by legal expenses insurance policies.

Related links

Part 66 of the Danish Administration of Justice Act

List of lawyers in Denmark

Last update: 13/08/2019

The national language version of this page is maintained by the respective Member State. The translations have been done by the European Commission service. Possible changes introduced in the original by the competent national authority may not be yet reflected in the translations. The European Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice to see copyright rules for the Member State responsible for this page.