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Advice for complainants in rape & certain sexual assault cases

Civil legal aid and advice for complaints in rape & certain sexual assault cases

Complainant

The term " complainant " in this leaflet refers to a person who has made a complaint to the Gardaí about rape and/or sexual assault and in respect of which criminal proceedings have been initiated against the person alleged to be responsible.

Services Provided

The Legal Aid Board provides legal aid i.e. representation in court, to complainants in certain cases of sexual assault.  There are two different services available and each of them is dealt with in turn in the leaflet.

Legal Advice Service

Legal advice is available to a complainant in a prosecution for certain sexual offences who wish to seek advice about the matter.  A person seeking to avail of this service dose not have to undergo a means test or pay a contribution to the Board for this service.

Legal Aid Service

Legal aid is available to a complainant in certain sexual assault cases where the prior sexual history of the complainant is being raised by a person accused of one or more of the following offences:

  • A rape offence
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring aggravated sexual assault
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring attempted aggravated sexual assault
  • Incitement to aggravated sexual assault, or
  • Conspiring to commit any of the foregoing offence

A person who seeks to avail of this service does not have to undergo a means test or a contribution.

The service provided is legal aid in relation to an application by the accused to adduce evidence relating to the complainant's prior sexual history.  The jury is sent out and the application is heard before the trail judge alone and the complainant is entitled to be separately heard in relation to the application.

The general role of a complainant at a rape trail is that of a witness and the actual prosecution of the offence is carried out on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Provision of solicitor/Barrister

A solicitor and where necessary, a barrister will be appointed by the board to provide services in each individual case.

General information about both services

Essential Services:

These are essential and valuable services for complainant in rape and certain sexual assault cases.  The Board recommends that complainants seek legal services at the earliest possible time.  The Board will nominate a solicitor and/or barrister at the first available opportunity and those applying will not be placed on a waiting list.

How to Apply

A person looking for legal services can apply at any of the Board's law centres. Details of the Board's law centres are available on www.legalaidboard.ie or by contacting:

  • Head Office: Legal Aid Board, Quay Street, Cahersiveen, Co. Kerry, V23 RD36
  • Locall No : 1890 615 200 / Tel: (066) 947 199 / Fax: (066) 947 1035
  • Email:  info@legalaidboard.ie

The above is provided for information purposes only.  It does not purport to be either a statement of the law or legal advice