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Communtity Law Manual | Legal aid | Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA): When you’re arrested or held by the Police

Other legal assistance in criminal cases

Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA): When you’re arrested or held by the Police

The Police Detention Legal Assistance Service (PDLA) is available to anyone who has been detained by the police, whether they’ve been arrested or not. The service does not apply to people detained by Customs Officers, Immigration Officers, or any other officer of the Crown with the power of detention.

New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, ss 23, 24

Under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, everyone who is detained by the police must be advised that they may consult a lawyer and if they cannot afford one, a lawyer will be provided free of charge from the list of PDLA lawyers.

If the detained person wants to talk to a lawyer, they can choose a lawyer from the list and the police will then facilitate contact with that lawyer. The lawyers available are experienced criminal jury trial lawyers, rostered to provide legal advice and/or legal assistance.

The service is largely telephone based, but face-to-face attendances are available in some circumstances. If the detained person then applies for legal aid, they will probably be assigned the lawyer who spoke to them under the PDLA service, and can request that this happens.

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