Defendants (criminal proceedings)


Getting independent legal advice is very important when you are involved in some way with the criminal process. The factsheets tell you in what circumstances you are entitled to be represented by a lawyer. They also tell you what a lawyer can do for you. This general factsheet tells you how to find a lawyer and how the costs of a lawyer will be met if you cannot afford to pay.

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Finding a lawyer

If you are under arrest or detained or in custody, you may appoint a private counsel of your own immediately, and meet him right after arrest, detention or custody.

If you are on bail you can appoint a private counsel and talk to him at any time.

You may find a lawyer at the following links:

National Bar

Multilingual Criminal Law

Italian Chambers of Criminal Lawyers

If you are not appointing a counsel, the Judicial Authority will appoint one for you from a special register.

Paying for a lawyer

Generally you are supposed to pay the lawyer who is assisting you, whether you have chosen him yourself or whether he was appointed to you by the Court.

Can I get the services of a lawyer free of charge?

You can apply for legal aid in order to get legal assistance paid by the government if your taxable income doesn’t exceed € 10,628.16. Should you live with a spouse or other relatives, the taxable income will be calculated by adding up all the incomes of each one of the family members. In such a case, the income limit is raised by a further € 1,032.91 and calculated for each one of the members of the family living with the interested party.

Are there circumstances where legal aid is excluded?

Legal aid is excluded:

  • in criminal proceedings related to tax evasion;
  • if the applicant is assisted by more than one counsel;
  • for those having a final conviction for those crimes related with mafia association, and related to tobacco smuggling and drug trafficking.

What can I do in to get Legal Aid?

You must apply to the office of the magistrate where the case is pending.

You must fill out and sign the application and you must supply the following information:

  • request for the granting of legal aid;
  • your name, surname, place, date of birth and tax code also of all the members of your family;
  • certification of your income for the year prior to your application (written statements);
  • your commitment to communicate any relevant changes in your income in order to be granted benefits.

You can either submit your application personally, attaching a photocopy of valid I.D. card, or you may submit it through your counsel who will have to legalize your signature. You can also send it by means of a certified letter with a return receipt, attaching a photocopy of your I.D. card.

If you have been detained you can submit your application from prison.

If you are under house arrest or custody, you can submit your application to an officer of the criminal police.

If you are a foreigner/alien coming from outside the EU, you must attach certification to your application from the competent consular authority about your income abroad and declaring the truth of what you have declared in your application.

If this is not possible such certification may be substituted by self-certification. If you are a foreigner and are detained and in prison for security reasons, or if you are under arrest or house arrest the certification from your Consulate may be submitted within twenty days from the submission of your application either by your counsel, a relative of yours or it can also be substituted by written statement.

What happens if I am granted legal aid?

Should the judge grant your request you may choose a private counsel from among the lawyers listed in special registers kept by the Bars. You can check these registers at the office of each Bar.

Expenses related to legal aid and all expenses related to the proceedings, including the services of an interpreter will paid by the government.

Related links

Volunteer Solicitors

Ministry of Interior

Italian Chambers of Criminal Lawyers

Bar of Triveneto

Last update: 18/01/2022

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