The following outlines the duties and priorities of duty solicitor work.
|The duty solicitor’s primary role is to assist unrepresented people appearing in court that particular day, with the priority of assisting people in overnight custody to apply for bail. It is important that the duty solicitor provides assistance and representation according to the priorities set out below.|
The first priority is the representation of people in custody who have been recently arrested and who wish to apply for bail. They have usually been arrested that day, or the day/night or weekend before they are brought to the Court. This category of people requiring assistance is referred to as overnight arrests or overnight custodies [see Bail chapter].
Another category of people in custody who require assistance are those who have previously appeared on the matter(s) now before the Court but who have remained in custody and are unrepresented.
When people who are in custody appear before the Court, the court file is endorsed with DAXC for defendant appears ex-custody.
These defendants usually need the help of the duty solicitor to:
- apply for bail [see Bail chapter];
- apply for a bail assessment and/or home detention report in respect of bail for the next court date [see Bail chapter];
- make submissions in mitigation of penalty on a plea of guilty, if it is a relatively minor matter [see Guilty Pleas and Sentencing chapters]; or
- remand the matter pending lodgement of a legal aid application or for a private solicitor to be instructed [see Assistance with Legal Aid Application in the Bail chapter].
The second priority is representing people who are not in custody but need help to apply for a remand/adjournment or to enter a plea of guilty in a simple matter [see Guilty Pleas and Sentencing chapters]. Considerations relevant to the duty solicitor deciding whether to assist such a person are discussed in more detail later in this chapter (see below).
|WHEN TO REFUSE A GUILTY PLEA|
|The duty solicitor should only offer assistance where the person would be at a serious disadvantage without representation. Where more detailed preparation is required for submissions on a plea of guilty, the duty solicitor should not attempt representation themselves. Instead, they should advise the defendant to remand/adjourn the matter him or herself and instruct a solicitor or apply for legal aid promptly [see Guilty Pleas chapter].|
The third and last priority is advising people who are not in custody and are to appear in court that day. The people to help in this category are:
Unrepresented defendants generally
These defendants often need advice as to:
- potential defences;
- whether it may be in their best interests to adjourn/remand the matter and instruct a solicitor to negotiate with police prosecutions or to proceed to trial;
- possible penalties such as fines, licence disqualifications and alternative sentencing options such as good behaviour bonds and community service work; or
- whether the offence with which they are charged may potentially attract a sentence of imprisonment, either suspended or immediate.
Unrepresented defendants who are able to conduct their own guilty plea
These defendants need the assistance described above for unrepresented defendants generally, as well as advice about court procedures and the material they should put to the Magistrate in mitigation of penalty [see Guilty Pleas and Sentencing chapters].
|The above information for assisting unrepresented persons does not include advising people who telephone the duty solicitors’ office requiring legal advice, because they are not appearing in court on that day. The duty solicitor should refer them instead to the Legal Services Commission’s Legal Help Line or Legal Advice Appointment Service as outlined below: Legal Help Line 1300 366 424 (local call cost)Hearing Impaired (TTY Phone) (08) 8463 3691Telephone Interpreter Service 131 450 This is a free telephone advice service available Monday to Friday from 9.00am until 4.30pm. Legal Advice Appointment ServiceAdelaide Office (08) 8463 3555Elizabeth Office (08) 8207 9292Holden Hill Office (08) 8369 1044Noarlunga Office (08) 8207 3877Port Adelaide Office (08) 8207 6276Port Augusta Office (08) 8648 5180 Mount Barker Office (08) 8226 8722Whyalla Office (08) 8648 8940This is a free advice interview service and can be conducted using interpreters if needed. In addition, referrals can be made to: The Law Society of South Australia Legal Advisory Service (08) 8229 0222 Appointments are available each Monday and Wednesday between 5.30pm and 7.00pm. There is a nominal fee of $25 (less for pension or concession card holders) for a 20 minute interview. Community Legal CentresRefer to the South Australian Community Legal Centre Directory at www.saccls.org.au for a list of metropolitan and rural centres which provide free legal advice and assistance.|