Defence counsel services

Our mission

To provide the legal services prescribed at Queen's Regulations and Orders (QR&O) article 101.20(2) to persons subject to the Code of Service Discipline charged or liable to be charged under that Code. Those services include:

  • Provision of legal advice to a person arrested or detained in respect of a service offence
  • Provision of legal counsel to an accused person where there is reasonable grounds to believe the accused person is unfit to stand trial
  • Provision of legal advice of a general nature to an assisting officer or accused person on matters relating to summary hearings
  • Provision of legal advice with respect to the making of an election to be tried by court martial
  • Provision of legal counsel in respect of a bail hearing before a military judge
  • Provision of legal counsel to an accused person which includes
    • representation at a court martial
    • representation for release pending appeal
    • representation at a hearing as to the sufficiency of evidence to put an accused person on trial where a finding of unfit to stand trial has been made
    • representation in respect of an application to a referral authority made in accordance with Queen's Regulations and Orders article 109.03
  • Provision of counsel, where the Minister of National Defence appeals the legality of a finding or sentence or the severity of a sentence awarded by a court martial
  • Provision of legal counsel to a person on an appeal or an application for leave to appeal under sections 230 or 245 of the National Defence Act with the approval of the Appeal Committee established under article 101.21 of the Queen's Regulations and Orders
  • Provision of legal advice to a person who is the subject of an investigation under the Code of Service Discipline, a summary investigation or a board of inquiry.

Our lawyers

DDCS is comprised of the Director and other legal officers performing defence counsel services. When a person subject to the Code of Service Discipline has the right to be represented in the manner prescribed in regulations made by the Governor in Council he or she may request to have a particular legal officer assisting the Director to act as legal counsel or any legal officer assisting the Director. If available the Director shall appoint him/her a legal officer of his/her choice, if not, the Director shall insure ensure that another legal officer assisting the Director is made available.

Our approach

Our services are provided in the official language of the client's choice and in a manner that allows the client to clearly understand the disciplinary process. There are many points during the disciplinary process when clients must make certain choices and give instructions to their lawyer on how their defence should be conducted. Our objective as defence counsel is to ensure that these choices are informed choices.

Request for counsel

Under current regulations you are entitled to full representation by a military defence lawyer once the charges are sent to a Referral Authority. Prepare a memorandum to your commanding officer requesting military defence counsel and it will be forwarded to our office. A lawyer will normally, be appointed to act on your behalf once the request and the Record of Disciplinary Proceedings, including election of language of trial have been received. The Director of Defence Counsel Services shall, always, endeavor to appoint counsel in a timely fashion so as not to compromise the right of an accused person to a full answer and defence.

Points to remember

"If you are the subject of an investigation or suspected of an offence, you are not, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, obliged to provide a statement to the police or other military authorities.

When you are suspected of having committed an offence, the military police should, according to law, offer you an opportunity to speak to counsel before proceeding with the interview. Your right to counsel is very important, and you should call the duty counsel or counsel of your choice before speaking to the military police."

You may be asked by the police to take a polygraph, commonly known as a "lie detector" test. Remember that you are not obliged to submit to this test, and that the results are not admissible in court to prove either your guilt or your innocence. However, the polygraph procedure includes interviews before and after the test itself. What you say to the examiner during these interviews may be used as evidence against you at the trial.

Download the form Notice of Application to Referral Authority & Legal Counsel Selection (PDF, 90Kb)

Information for persons charged with a service offence or being investigated for service offences

Entitlement to counsel

As a rule, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members charged with an offence under the Code of Service Discipline are entitled under QR&O 109.04 to a military lawyer to represent them, when a charge is forwarded to a Referral Authority for disposal by court martial. In exceptional circumstances, a lawyer may be appointed at an earlier time. The services of a defence lawyer are provided without cost to the Canadian Armed Forces member.

Information: duty telephone numbers

For legal advice on your right to counsel for arrest or interrogation by police,
for summary hearing and/or election, please call
1-888-715-9636 or in Ottawa: 819-997-8985


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