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Defendants (criminal proceedings)

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Getting independent legal advice is very important when you are involved in some way with the 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.

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Finding a lawyer and meeting the costs

In many cases, you will be entitled to free legal representation, in some cases you will have to pay a contribution. You will have to pay a contribution if you are not remanded in custody.

If you have been asked to appear for questioning as a suspect, you can contact a specialized lawyer via the site of the Dutch Bar Association Orde van Advocaten or the legal aid and advice centre. Normally, you will have to pay for this yourself.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of a crime, you are entitled to free representation by a lawyer before you are questioned. The police must tell you this. The police may call a lawyer of your choice or you will be assigned an independent lawyer.

If you have not exercised your right to legal representation before you are first questioned, you will be assigned a lawyer after you have been taken into police custody. Again, you can name a lawyer of your choice who will represent you, free of charge, as long as you are in police custody.

If you have been released

If you receive a summons on or after your release, you should contact the lawyer who saw you at the police station. If you did not see a lawyer at the police station or if you are not satisfied with him, you can find a lawyer through the Netherlands Bar Association. You can also contact the legal aid and advice centre.

If you are on a low income, the lawyer can ask the State pay his fees. You will have to pay a contribution, though. You can get more information about legal aid from the Legal Aid Board. If you have not received a summons, you are not automatically entitled to free legal aid. You should discuss this with your lawyer.

If you are remanded in custody

If you have been remanded in custody, you are entitled to free legal aid. The lawyer who represented you while you were in police custody will be assigned to you. He will assist you free of charge until the end of the proceedings, regardless of your income.

If you receive a summons in another case while you are in detention, you are entitled to free legal aid.

You may change lawyers at any time.

Last update: 25/04/2016

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