The Legal Services Commission has the largest criminal law practice in South Australia with over 38 lawyers who provide advice and court representation to persons charged with criminal offences. The Criminal Law Practice Division provides representation, duty solicitor services, prison advice and an after-hours custody advice service.
The Criminal Practice Division represents persons charged with criminal offences across all jurisdictional levels from the Youth Court, Magistrates Court, District and Supreme Courts through to the Court of Criminal Appeal and the High Court of Australia.
The service extends from representation at police interview (through the after hours custody answering service), to advice and representation through committal, trial, sentencing, appeals before the courts and appearances before the Parole Board. The Commission's criminal lawyers represent approximately 38% of all legal aid clients charged with criminal offences. The remaining clients are represented by private lawyers under a grant of legal aid. Legal aid is not normally available for minor offences where there is no risk of imprisonment. Instead, these clients can obtain advice and assistance from our Legal Advice Service and Duty Solicitor Service.
In addition to the head office in Adelaide, the Commission's criminal lawyers are based at Elizabeth, Mount Barker, Noarlunga, Port Adelaide, the Adelaide Youth Court, Port Augusta and Whyalla.
There are presently three major Diversion Courts operating in the Magistrates Court in South Australia. These are the Drug Court, Mental Health Diversion Court and the Domestic Violence Diversion Court. The aim of the Diversion Courts is to address the issues that have led to an offender becoming involved in the criminal justice system by participation in intensive rehabilitation programs and counselling to deal with their particular issues and needs. Presently a number of the Commission's criminal lawyers practice exclusively in the Diversion Courts.