Appointment of a defence counsel

Appointment of a defence counsel

The police have a duty to guide you on your option to have a defence counsel appointed if you are provisionally charged in a criminal case.

As a general rule, you are allowed to decide whom you want as your defence counsel during the case. If you are under 18, however, the holder(s) of parental custody is/are entitled to choose your defence counsel.

In a number of cases, the court will appoint a public defence counsel for you. This means, amongst other things, that the fees for the defence counsel will initially be paid out of public funds. If you are convicted, the state will subsequently recover the costs from you. Read more about case costs.

You can ask the police or the court to have a specific attorney appointed as your defence counsel. The court will decide whether the conditions for appointing a defence counsel are satisfied.

The Danish Bar and Law Society has a list of all Danish attorneys. For example, you can search for attorneys who specialise in criminal law. You can find the list, which is called Advokatnøglen, on the website of the Danish Bar and Law Society.

If you do not choose an attorney, the court will appoint one of its choice. The court has a list of attorneys who are eligible for appointment in criminal cases.

If you decide during a criminal case that you want a new defence counsel, you are usually entitled to have a new one appointed. You can inform the police, the court or the new defence counsel that you wish to change defence counsel.

When must a defence counsel be appointed?

As a general rule, a defence counsel must be appointed in all criminal cases unless the case is minor, for example, if the sentence will merely be a fixed penalty amount. This could be traffic cases concerning a speed violation where – if you are convicted – the penalty will only be a fixed penalty amount.

In less serious cases, a defence counsel will not be present during the court hearing unless you arrange for the defence counsel to be present. Read about privately retained defence counsels.