The responsibilities of the defence counsel

The responsibilities of the defence counsel

In many criminal cases, you are entitled to have a defence counsel assist you from the time you are provisionally charged and until the case is decided. Read about appointment of defence counsels.

The defence counsel does not have to be objective, and his or her job is solely to safeguard your interests. The defence counsel's job is to highlight all the information and circumstances that are in your favour.

Before the trial proceedings

While the police are investigating a potential criminal case against you, the defence counsel is entitled to be present during the police's interview with you.

The defence counsel may also ask the police to take investigative steps that he or she believes are relevant to the case. This could include witness interviews or technical examinations – fingerprints, DNA traces, telecom data, or video surveillance recordings. If the police find these investigative steps irrelevant, the court will have to decide whether they should be carried out.

As a general rule, the defence counsel is entitled to receive a copy of all material compiled by the police for the criminal case. The defence counsel may show you the material, but you can only have a copy if the police allow it.

During the trial proceedings

When the police have completed their investigation, the prosecution service will decide on any further action in the case.
The prosecution service will bring formal charges if the prosecutor finds there is enough evidence to have you convicted. When formal charges are brought, the case is sent to the court along with an indictment listing the charges. This means that you are no longer provisionally charged but now formally charged.

When formal charges are issued, it is the defence counsel's job to assist you during the actual trial proceedings. This is where the defence counsel will be able to question you and the witnesses in the case.

The defence counsel's job is to highlight all the information and circumstances in favour of your not being guilty of the charge issued by the prosecution service.
Similarly, the defence counsel must highlight every aspect in favour of your being given a lenient sentence if you are convicted.

After the trial proceedings

When a judgment has been delivered in a criminal case, the court and the defence counsel will guide you as to your options for appeal. You can usually choose to have your case heard in both the district court and the high court. You will need permission from the Appeals Permission Board to appeal if you have been sentenced to less than 20 day penalties or a total fixed penalty amount of less than DKK 3,000.

You or the prosecution service must file the appeal within 14 days after the judgment was delivered.

If you have been in custody during the proceedings, the court will decide whether you should remain in custody.

Read more about custody.