2 — How to get a lawyer

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Any form of involvement in criminal proceedings may have the advantage of obtaining independent legal advice. In the factsheets, you will find out when and under which circumstances you have the right to be defended by a lawyer. Below you will find out how to find a lawyer and how to pay lawyers’ fees if you cannot afford a lawyer.


How to find a lawyer?

If you know that you are suspected of having committed an offence, you can, for example, find on the internet lawyers specialised in criminal law or specialised in criminal law. Any lawyer registered in Germany is entitled to act as defence counsel. For example, to find a lawyer, you can use the Link opens in new window federal official register of lawyers. If it is premature because you are at risk of arrest or search, you can reach a defence counsel around the clock in most of Germany’s regions through a defence counsel emergency call. If you have criteria such as foreign language skills or residence, you can consult the defence lawyers’ search Link opens in new windowof the Association of Criminal Law of the German Lawyers’ Association or the local court section of the regional bar associations. Since 01.01.2010, regional lists of lawyers willing to take charge of duty defence lawyers have Link opens in new windowbeen drawn up. If and how these lists can be accessed, you can consult the local Chamber of Lawyers.

If you are arrested or Link opens in new windowremanded in custody, you do not have access to these information. The police are required to provide a list of lawyers or a telephone directory. The police notices numbers are also known to the police. If the police do not allow you any contact with a lawyer, it is important that you inform the court if you are brought before you. The courts are also in possession of lists of lawyers willing to take over Link opens in new windowmandatory defence.

Who has to pay the lawyers’ fees?

The State must bear the legal fees if or to the extent that you are acquitted. If the procedure is Link opens in new windowterminated or if you are convicted, you will have to pay the costs.

Even if you have little or no income, you will in principle not receive public financial support for the criminal proceedings. You can request advice from the local court in charge of your place of residence only for an Link opens in new windowinitial discussion.

A special nature of payment exists in cases of Link opens in new windowmandatory defence. In this case, your lawyer is initially paid by the State, but the legal remuneration of the lawyer as a reserved defence lawyer is lower than that required by the lawyer to be in default defence. You must take account of the fact that, in the event of a conviction, your defence costs will be charged to you at the end of the procedure. In other words, you will have to pay back the lawyers’ fees to the state and, in addition, reimburse to the lawyer the costs he would have been able to claim in the case of a non-mandatory defence, if you are able to do so.


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Last update: 30/08/2019