Public Defenders

Welcome to the ​Public 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


Public Defender Vacancies

Public Defenders are seeking applications for three Public Defender positions based in Sydney (Campbelltown/Penrith), Dubbo and Wagga Wagga more...


First Female Senior Public Defender for NSW

Attorney General Mark Speakman has announced the appointment of Belinda Rigg SC as Senior Public Defender for New South Wales. 


Early Appropriate Guilty Pleas

Existing resources

The Public Defenders have compiled a number of resources to assist practitioners with the Early Appropriate Guilty Pleas scheme.  That material, including a paper explaining the scheme (Early Guilty Pleas: A New Ball Game) may be accessed here.

UPDATED – Table of Common Charge Options – now includes HRO and Child Protection Register status

The Table of Common Charge Options has now been updated and contains information about whether an offence is an index offence under the Crimes (High Risk Offenders) Act 2006 (CHROA) or a registrable offence under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (CPORA).

The table sets out hundreds of common charges across different categories including sexual, drug, theft, violence and public justice offences.  It is in the form of a "ready reckoner" showing alternative offences, maximum penalties, standard non-parole periods, whether the offence is strictly indictable, Table 1, Table 2 or summary and, now, the status of the offence under CHROA and CPORA.


Public Defenders "Under 5s Practical Advocacy Course 2019"

The Public Defenders are seeking expressions of interest from NSW barristers of five years and under to participate in a practical advocacy training course for criminal lawyers. The course consists of six evening sessions, of approximately 1 ½ hours, commencing in April and concluding in September 2019. There will be one session per month focusing on the practice of different areas of criminal law.

The course is $50 per session with full payment of $300 due before commencement.  If you are interested please complete the one page registration form here and submit to as soon as possible. Numbers are strictly limited and as a result places cannot be guaranteed.


Date SpeakerTopic
2 April

Tony Evers

Public Defender

Plea negotiation and case conferencing
7 May

Tanya Smith

Acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions

11 June

Judge Dina Yehia SC

Judge NSW District Court

9 July

Ertunc Ozen SC

Public Defender

The Voir Dire
13 August

Judge Ian McClintock SC

Judge NSW District Court

10 September

Madeleine Avenell

Public Defender


New sentencing laws

On Monday 24 September 2018, very substantial changes to sentencing options will commence.  The changes involve the abolition of s9 bonds, Community Service Orders, Home Detention Orders, s10(1)(b) bonds and s12 bonds (suspended sentences). 

A new form of Intensive Correction Order (ICO), as well as two completely new sentencing orders will be introduced:  Community Correction Orders (CCO) and Conditional Release Orders (CRO).  Many existing sentences will automatically convert into one of the new orders. 

The main amendments are to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 and the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999.  The amendments should be incorporated into the consolidated versions of those Acts on the Legislation NSW website soon.

Meanwhile, the amending legislation may be found here:

To assist practitioners, we have assembled resources including an overview of the changes, some references and helpful links:

Sentencing Bench Book - Community-Based Orders Generally 
Quick reference guide to sentencing reforms - UPDATED 12.3.2019
Second reading speech
New South Wales Law Reform Commission, Sentencing, Report 139 (2013) 
Clare Ringland and Don Weatherburn, 'The impact of intensive correction orders   on re-offending' (2013) 176 Crime and Justice Bulletin 1
Joanna JJ Wang and Suzanne Poynton, 'Intensive correction orders versus short prison sentence: A comparison of re-offending' (2017) 207 Crime and Justice Bulletin
Department of Justice information page

Legal Aid training days

Legal Aid NSW is providing free training for practitioners on the reforms.  The dates and locations for the training can be found here. To register for the training, go to:


CPD Seminar

On 21 August 2018 the Bar Association hosted a CPD seminar on the reforms presented by Richard Wilson, Deputy Senior Public Defender, and Luke Grant, Assistant Commissioner, Corrections Strategy and Policy.  A recording will be available in the members sections of the Bar Association website very soon.


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