Legal aid & Preparation of the case

You always have the right to self-paid legal aid. Sometimes legal aid will be provided and paid for by the State. You also have the right to meetings and confidential communication with your attorney at law.

Right to legal aid

When you are arrested, you have the right to legal aid. In Bulgaria, only attorneys at law can defend you in criminal proceedings.

An attorney at law can help you to challenge your arrest and to prepare your criminal case. Immediately upon your arrest, the police must explain this right to you in writing and if necessary orally.

If you do not have an attorney at law at the moment of your arrest, according to the Bulgarian law you can ask the arresting officer to arrange for the invitation of an attorney who will be paid for by the State.

Read more about defence in criminal proceedings.

Free legal aid

You always have the right to invite a self-paid attorney at law of your own choosing.

However, there can be situations where an attorney at law will be provided and paid for by the state. These are situations where:

  • You have not invited an attorney at law but the participation of an attorney is compulsory in the criminal proceedings
  • You have invited an attorney at law but for some reason he or she cannot participate in a procedural activity where the presence of an attorney is compulsory
  • You have not invited an attorney because you cannot afford to pay for one. Please note that in this situation your level of poverty will not be evaluated subjectively but according to the pertinent laws

The procedure for assigning an  obligatory attorney at law is explained in the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Communication with an attorney at law

During your arrest period, you can meet with your attorney at law freely, without the special permission of the person directing the process and without time limits. The police must ensure circumstances where you can confidentially meet with your attorney at law. The police or other authorities must not listen to your conversation with the attorney at law.

Right to defend yourself

It is important to have an attorney at law who can help you to challenge your arrest and to prepare your criminal case, if it is being pursued. But, you also have the right to personally defend yourself. This means that you have the right not to use an attorney at law and use all the rights of defence on your own. Read more about the right to defend yourself.

What human rights violation may there be?

If you were not given a chance to invite an attorney at law and you could not, therefore, effectively challenge your arrest, it may result in a violation of the right to liberty and security of a person.

If you were not given a chance to invite an attorney at law and you could not, therefore, properly prepare your defence, there was non-permitted interference in your communication or you were not allowed to defend yourself where permitted, it may result in a violation of the right to fair trial.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education