Know Your Rights : You are entitled to a lawyer
Last week, we looked at freedom of movement as a right to each Jamaican under the Constitution. In this week's article, we look at how you can get legal representation if you are in conflict with the law. It does not matter how much money you have, legal aid is available to you.
Let's go through the following:
1. Every person, adult or child, taken into police custody is entitled to legal representation by an attorney. It's your right. Ask the police to call duty counsel for question-and-answer session, identification parade and application for station or court bail.
The duty counsel programme is free. The duty counsel list was recently upgraded and has more than 500 attorneys. The updated list outlines the names, contact numbers and parishes in which attorneys have been designated to assist with representation for accused persons.
2. If you have been taken into police custody and scheduled for a question-and-answer session, you are entitled to have a lawyer advise and represent you.
3. Where the police schedule identification parade for a suspect, the suspect is entitled to have an attorney present at the identification parade to ensure the process is fair and in accordance with the law.
4. An assigned counsel must take full instructions from the client, enquire into client's physical well-being, if in custody, ensure all client rights are observed and advise the client.
5. The Legal Aid Council assigns an attorney from a panel of private lawyers to represent you in a criminal matter from the first court date to the conclusion of the matter. A magistrate, judge, director of a Legal Aid Clinic or the Legal Aid Council may grant your request/application for a lawyer.
6. All attorneys to whom court cases are assigned are in private practice, and are committed to represent all clients vigorously and fearlessly.
Next week, we will continue to look at your right to legal representation.
You Can Get Help
The Legal Aid Council is located on the Ground Floo of the Air Jamaica Building at 72-76 Harbour Street, Kingston.
- Kingston Legal Aid Clinic, 131 Tower Street, Kingston
- Montego Bay Legal Aid Clinic, 42B Union Street, Montego Bay, St James, Tel: 952-2183.
- Norman Manley Law School Clinic, University of the West Indies