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AFRO Broadcasting Station

Duty Lawyer Service 

Sex workers face various legal issues from time to time and sometimes even have to face prosecution. When faced with various legally provisions which are difficult to comprehend, we encourage our fellow sisters to seek professional legal advice.
In Hong Kong, not everyone can afford to hire a private lawyer. Eligible defendants can apply for the "Duty Lawyer Service", which offers representation or assistance to members of the public in magistrates courts.
The financial eligibility limit is set at a gross annual income of $197,040 (i.e. monthly salary of about HK$16,420)
Handling Charge:
Duty Lawyer representation is offered to defendants on their first day of court appearance without any means testing. After that and after passing the means test, applicants are required to pay one fixed handling charge of $570. This is the only charge any defendant has to pay, no matter how long the trial lasts.
Duty lawyer:
The Duty Lawyer Service is not part of the Legal Aid Department and in fact it is not even a government department. It is an independent organisation fully funded by the Hong Kong Government managed by the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong. All the Duty Lawyers are not government lawyers. They are privately practising lawyers.
Some fellow sisters may worry that the duty lawyers are appointed by the government and will definitely stand on the side of the prosecution and press the defendants to plead guilty to the charges. Although the service of the Duty Lawyers is paid by the Government, they are not employees of the Government and they do not need to press the defendants to “please” the Government. The Duty Lawyer is to act according to the instructions of the defendant unless it is against the Bar or Solicitor Code of Conduct to do so.
However, the defendant generally does not have the right to choose the duty lawyer. The lawyers will be arranged by the Duty Lawyer Service. If the defendant pleads not guilty, he/she needs to stand trial. The defendant will have at least one full interview with the Court Liaison Officer at which full instruction and statement will be taken. A Duty Lawyer may have conference with the defendant prior to the day of hearing if he/she considers necessary.
To ensure fair trials, it is important that mutual trust exists between the lawyer and the defendant. The defendant must honestly tell the lawyer the truth, so that the lawyer can provide adequate legal advices.

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