Legal aid & Defence

You always have the right to self-paid legal aid. Sometimes legal aid will be provided and paid for by the State. You also have the right to meetings and confidential communication with your attorney at law.

Right to legal aid

When you are detained on remand, you are a suspect or an accused person in the criminal proceedings. Your trial may even have begun. The fact that you are detained does not mean that you have no right to prepare your defence case. Your right to prepare your case is explained in the Criminal Procedure Law.

It is important to have a lawyer who can help you to challenge your detention and to prepare your criminal case. Therefore, you have the right to have a lawyer. In Latvia, only attorneys at law and their apprentices can defend you in criminal proceedings. Read more about defence in criminal proceedings.

You also have the right to defend yourself. This means that you have the right to refuse legal aid and use all the rights of defence on your own. Read more about the right to defend yourself.

Free legal aid

You always have a right to invite a self-paid attorney at law of your own choosing. However, there can be situations where an attorney at law will be provided and paid for by the state. Those situations are where:

  • You have not invited an attorney at law but the participation of the attorney in the criminal proceedings is compulsory.
  • You have invited an attorney at law but for some reason he or she cannot participate in a procedural activity where the presence of an attorney is compulsory.
  • You have not invited an attorney because you cannot afford to pay for one. Please note that in these situations your level of poverty will not be evaluated subjectively but according to the pertinent laws.

The procedure for assigning an attorney at law is explained in the Criminal Procedure Law.

Communication with an attorney at law

You have the right to meet with your attorney at law freely during your detention, but you have to comply with the internal order of the investigation prison. The administration of the investigation prison must ensure that you can meet with your attorney at law confidentially. The guards or other authorities must not listen to your conversation or watch it on video surveillance.

You also have the right to call, write to and receive letters from your attorney at law. You have the right to confidentiality. That means that the staff of the place of detention must not listen to your calls or read your letters.

If you do not speak Latvian, there may be some situations where you have the right to a State provided translator during your meetings with the attorney at law. These situations are explained in the Criminal Procedure Law.

What human rights violation may there be?

If you were not given a chance to invite an attorney at law and you could not, therefore, effectively challenge your detention, this may result in a violation of the right to liberty and security of a person.

If you were not given a chance to invite an attorney at law and you could not, therefore, properly prepare your defence, there were non-permitted interferences in your communication with your attorney or you were not allowed to defend yourself where permitted, this may result in a violation of the right to fair trial.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education