Public Defenders

Welcome to the P​ublic Defenders website​

Public Defenders are salaried barristers independent of the government who appear in serious criminal matters for clients who have been granted legal aid. Learn more about Public Defenders.

We do not provide general legal advice to the public.  If you need legal help, contact LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 

Early Appropriate Guilty Pleas

On Monday 30 April 2018, a new legislative scheme for all indictable matters commenced, involving the abolition of committals as we know them and, for state charges, the introduction of statutory caps on discounts for the utilitarian benefit of a plea of guilty.

To assist practitioners, the Public Defenders have a paper explaining the scheme (Early Guilty Pleas: A New Ball Game). Defence practitioners are statutorily obliged to explain aspects of the scheme, both orally and in writing, to their clients. Four agencies (Public Defenders, Legal Aid NSW, the Law Society and the Aboriginal Legal Service) have jointly drafted a brief explanation to practitioners (EAGP s.72(2) Note to Practitioners) and model explanations for accused; (EAGP s.72(2) Explanation if caps apply and EAGP s.72(2) Explanation if no caps apply). The Chief Magistrate of the Local Court has updated the Local Court Practice Note for Committal Proceedings and the NSW Police Commissioner and the NSW DPP have agreed a protocol concerning their relationship and respective responsibilities pursuant to the new committal procedure (The DPP/Police Protocol). The Second Reading Speech of the Bill amending the relevant legislation is also attached.

All of these documents are available here:
Early Guilty Pleas: A New Ball Game, by Mark Ierace SC, Senior Public Defender
Local Court Practice Note for Committal Proceedings
The DPP/Police Protocol
2nd Reading speech: Justice Legislation Amendment (Committals and Guilty Pleas) Bill 2017

Model Explanations to clients
EAGP s.72(2) Note to Practitioners
EAGP s.72(2) Explanation if caps apply
EAGP s.72(2) Explanation if no caps apply

Legal Aid NSW has further material, including an explanatory paper, on their website at:



Public Defenders are proud to be a 2014/2015 Signatory to the TJMF Psychological Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines for the Legal Profession

If you experience difficulty reading any of the documents on this website and you require an accessible version, please email