Scheme for overseas criminal matters involving the death penalty
We may help Australians facing criminal charges involving the death penalty in an overseas country with the cost of their defence.
You can apply for grants to cover legal fees and other expenses. We will not, generally, cover the cost of any legal fees or expenses incurred before you apply.
Changes to Commonwealth legal financial assistance
On 2 July 2018, the Attorney-General announced changes to the Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance 2012:
The changes include replacing the serious overseas criminal matters scheme with the scheme for overseas criminal matters involving the death penalty.
The scheme for overseas criminal matters involving the death penalty excludes cases where a person is facing imprisonment of 20 years or more (such cases were previously included in the serious overseas criminal matters scheme). Such a person may be eligible for funding by the Commonwealth under the special circumstances scheme.
Assistance is only available where the accused person is at risk of being punished by the death penalty.
Assistance will not generally be granted to people who:
- can meet the cost without incurring serious financial difficulty
- are eligible for legal assistance in the overseas country
- do not have a continuing connection with Australia.
Apply for assistance
- Download and complete the application form: Application form – Overseas criminal matter
- Complete a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check Form
- If applicable, complete an overseas penal clearance certificate (also known as an overseas police check) from each country you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years and/or in which you have ever been charged with a criminal offence.
Find out more about obtaining overseas penal certificates on page one of the application form. You can also find country-specific information on the Department of Home Affairs website.
- Email your completed forms and any required attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: You must send the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check Form directly to us (email@example.com). Do not submit the form to any other organisation – we will submit it on your behalf as part of your application assessment.
If you cannot send your application by email, contact the Financial Assistance Section on 1800 117 995 if you are calling from Australia, or +61 2 6141 4770 if you are calling from outside Australia.
We will assess complete applications within 28 days. If your application is incomplete, we will notify you. We do not assess incomplete applications.
Assessment of costs
Monetary limits apply to certain disbursements. Read our cost assessment policy for more information:
From 2 July 2018, the Attorney-General is the decision maker for overseas criminal matter applications under both the scheme for overseas criminal matters involving the death penalty and the revised special circumstances scheme.
From 2 July 2018, the decision maker must take into account the following when considering applications:
- whether the applicant has been the subject of criminal proceedings in Australia or overseas, and – if so – the gravity, nature and outcome of those proceedings
- if the person is overseas, the circumstances under which they departed Australia.
Find out more about the special considerations on page 21 of the Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance 2012.
Get consular assistance
For consular assistance, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.