Legal Aid

Just like any other countries, Malaysia’s legal system does provide legal aid services. Other than lying on our free time, lawyers do give pro-bono advice and also represent clients at court for free.

Legal aid ranges from prison visits to syariah law advice. The legal aid centre in Kuala Lumpur is mainly fueled by Chambering Students as chambering students have to perform legal aid services for couple of times before being called to the Bar.

Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad – currently houses the Malaysian Courts.

I was fortunate enough to be picked for the Dock Brief program, a program where we get to represent unrepresented criminals in criminal courts. Some criminals could not afford lawyers hence they have no where to turn to and no idea what to do in Court. Hence with the legal aid program, they will be guided accordingly before they go to hell for their sins.

Today was my first training day. It was fun running around courts interviewing criminals and meeting all sorts of people. I was given the opportunity to interview 2 criminals, one of them charged pimping and another with drug abuse.

Seeing those bald headed men in the cell makes you feel pity for them despite the fact they have committed crimes that you wish you could personally punish them. Those unfortunate ones who didn’t get bailed would have to stay in the prison until their next hearing date. I heard there was a case where the mother of an accused did not want the son the plead guilty but does not have the money to bail him. She claimed that her son is innocent and doesn’t want a criminal record to be entered in her son’s name. However, the accused has been in jail since last year. If he had pleaded guilty on day one. He would be out by today or in few weeks time. Unfortunately, he pleaded not guilty and had to stay in jail till his next hearing.

I had an interesting moment with one of the people that I interviewed,
“Hi, I’m Foong. I’m from the legal aid centre. Are you pleading guilty? If so, do you want you to represent you in court for free?”

Accused: I’ll plead guilty if you call my wife that I’m here.

Since I was told that I’m not supposed to do that, I turned the accused’s request down. In a sad tone, he requested us to proceed with the interview. The whole purpose of the interview is to extract information which will mitigate his sentence. It seems that the accused was a learned person who was unfortunate to be caught with drugs.

But of course, lawyers are humans too. Seeing all those unfortunate souls makes you feel pity for them. After we finish interviewing all the criminals, we chilled while waiting for the judge to come. I felt bad for rejecting his request hence I offered to call his wife for him. His wife doesn’t know that he’s changing prisons hence it is essential to inform her (but I’m sure she will be informed by prison officers after the sentencing). I did inform his wife with a PUBLIC PHONE. Rule No. 1 never give your contact to any criminals or their family members.

He got a 7 months sentence for drug possession.

One of the most important mitigating factors is his previous convictions. If he is a first time offender, he may get away with a light sentence or even a bond of good behavior or binding over i.e. no imprisonment. However, sometimes the accused would lie about their previous offences. I caught one trying to lie..

Me: Do you have previous offences? Which also includes other offences than you are now charged?
Accused: (Looks sideway) No.
Me: Don’t lie to me, there’s no point lying to me cause the prosecuting officer has a list of your previous offences.
Accused: (nods his head) Yes… I was under remand once few years back.. (and went on..)

Not only lawyers lie you see.

14 thoughts on “Legal Aid”

  1. Lawyers are evil….they all go to hell for helping criminals…mwahahhaha!
    I’m really quite impressed with lawyers who have “no choice” but to represent an obvious serial killer/rapist because its their job…despite how sickening it is.

  2. frank: mmmm.. good luck to you.. kekek but its good in a way where you get to widen your knowledge la.
    JolingX: I smell sarcasm!!
    wolfx: what to do. Everyone is given a right of legal representation under the constitution of Malaysia even though one is a serial rapist etc.

  3. “Hi, I’m Foong. I’m from the legal aid centre. Are you pleading guilty? If so, do you want you to represent you in court for free?”

  4. I always get the question that goes: “How can you represent a criminal when you know he’s already guilty, or if he already confessed that he did so and so?” *shakes head*
    Not bad orr, can spot people lying 😉 I need to work on that skill. . . The other day my cousin who just got a little baby boy tipu me saying that he named his son Clark Kent, and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I even asked how to spell that name -______-;;

  5. xes: evemak is commenting on ur typo in the blog lar.
    But that aside, quite cool also huh facing criminals. Do u like talk to them with them on the other side of the table, not restrained or with them being on the other side of the cell?

  6. wOw, it seems interesting yet challenging at the same time that you get to meet with diff kindz of ppl. given that humanz hav emotionz.. it can be hard if you’re soft-hearted, coz might fell prey to their disguisez.. yet u can’t help but feel sorry for ’em sometimes.. aiyz.. humanz~ 😛

  7. lol, trust me, criminals are the same all over the world, no matter where they come from.
    Never answer question with truth… have to tease it out of them, gain their confidence, etc etc.
    Guess it makes them feel better when asked ‘have you any prior convictions? or for that matter non-convictions?’ and they answer no. I always tell them, there’s no point in lying to me, you are my client, I am here to represent your best interests.
    Of course if they spill the beans and confess to you that they are a serial child molesting rapist or whatever, that goes against your nature, such that you will not be able to represent their best interests due to your prejudice/bias, then of course you have right to step down as their legal representative.
    Dunno if same in m’sia if you can step down or not tho?

  8. Applegal: If we interview an accused person, the first rule of interview is never ask whether or not he did it because we need to gain their trust. We are afterall trying to help them.
    r4v3r: You are right.

  9. hrmp..*can’t wait* for my day to come.The most annoying part is extracting distorted information out of a person. They always seems to somehow *accidentally on purpose* missed out a few important points which ought to be mention.

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