Part of participating fully in a democracy means educating one’s self on citizen rights and responsibilities. Links and information offered in this section of the website are sourced from materials published by various sources including the Jamaica Information Service and the Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights. The information provided here is not intended as a substitute for an Attorney’s advice, but rather as a brief educational overview.
Please contact the organizations listed in our Non-Profit Organizations Listing for more information and for professional help.
- Links to Citizen Rights and Obligations Information+ Children Prisoners Women
- Workers Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Victim’s Rights
- Information on Duty Counsel
- Legal Aid & Police Powers
- Legal Aid at the Police Station
- Legal Aid at Court
- Police Powers of Arrest
- Police Powers of Search Citizen
- Rights & Police Powers
- +Links to the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR)
Source: All information taken from Jamaica Information Service Pamphlets
Duty Council & Legal Aid
Help with legal fees can be obtained either while you are being detained at a Police Station or before going to trial.
At a Police Station
Who is eligible for Legal Aid (Duty Counsel)?
Every person who is detained at a Police Station lockup whether arrested or not, may be granted access to Duty Counsel (an Attorney who attends a police station when called to do so). Persons charged with an excepted offense under the Money Laundering Act or sections of Dangerous Drugs Act also have a right to Duty Counsel.
Is Legal Aid Free?
Legal Aid is provided free of charge by a Duty Counsel. Each Police Station has a posted list of Duty Counsel.
How do I access Duty Counsel?
The police must inform you of your rights to contact your own Attorney or to contact a Duty Counsel for you.
How will the Duty Counsel assist me?
Duty Counsel will attend at the place where you are being detained and give you legal advice. They may also:
- attend an identification parade where required; make a bail application on your behalf to the Police or to the Courts;
- appear for you on your first appearance in Court.
Until the Duty Counsel arrives, you do not have to answer any questions from the Police if you do not wish to do so. The duties of the Duty Counsel end after your first appearance at Court. You must now apply for Legal Aid for any further assistance (see below). Please contact the Legal Aid office for further information (922-0080-9).
Legal Aid in Court
If you are charged with a criminal offense, you have the right to apply for assistance to obtain legal representation. This Attorney will prepare your case and represent you during the trial. Who has the right to Legal Aid?Legal Aid is provided for those who can prove they do not have the funds to pay for an attorney. You may be asked to pay for a portion of the fees. Legal Aid is NOT given for:
- Offenses under the Money Laundering Act.
- Offenses under the Dangerous Drugs Act (for manufacturing, importing, exporting, taking preparatory steps to export, selling or otherwise dealing in any dangerous drug and being in possession, in excess of the specified amounts).
- Any offense not punishable with imprisonment.
Application Forms are available from any Police Station, Post Office, Legal Aid Clinic and Court’s office. You will need proof of income, savings, earnings and expenses. If you are under 18 years, your parent or guardian or any other adult can apply on your behalf.
If you need help with the form, ASK FOR HELP at: A Court’s office; At a Legal Aid Clinic; From a Justice of the Peace (JP).
Please contact the Legal Aid office for further information (922-0080-9) on Duty Counsel and Legal Aid.