Public Defenders

Who Are We:

The Public Defenders’ Department, is a division of the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority that provides legal representation to persons charged with criminal offences who cannot afford a Private Attorney. Our group of passionate and dedicated Attorneys defend accused’s persons at both the High Courts and Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago.

The department, was established in March 2020, to assist with the delay in and backlog of criminal matters in the judicial system. The creation of this department has assisted with specifically addressing the need for additional attorneys to provide representation to persons who require legal aid.

Our dynamic team is made of up of highly qualified attorneys with varied level of experience before the Criminal Bar of Trinidad and Tobago and with a common purpose to Serve YOU.

We are led by:

Ms. Hasine Shaikh LLB, LEC, LLM.
Chief Public Defender

Mr. Trevor Clarkle LLB, LPC
Deputy Public Defender


What We Do:

We safeguard the rights and interests of persons accused of crimes by ensuring that no one is denied his/her right to an attorney and is afforded a fair trial in accordance with due process under the law. We are passionate about the provision of quality legal representation and access to justice to every accused person regardless of their social stratum or economic standing.

Some of the functions and duties of Public Defenders include:

  • Attendance at Case management hearings and Trials at the High Court;
  • Attendance at Magisterial Appeals;
  • Attendance at High Court Appeals;
  • Processing of legal aid applications at the prison;
  • Bail applications for High Court clients and persons who have filed a Notice of Intention to Plead Guilty; and
  • Review of legislation affecting the criminal justice system.

How to Obtain Legal Representation:

STEP 1 - Apply for Legal Aid

Accused persons who are on bail may visit any Legal Aid office to speak with an Attorney-at-law and apply for legal aid.

If the Accused person is in custody, a family member can attend any one of our offices to make a “Prison visit request”. The Accused person can also make a request at the Prison's Welfare Department and/or indicate to the Judicial Officer when in Court.

Once the official request is made at a Legal Aid Office or Prison, a Public Defender will meet with the Accused person who is in custody and assist in completing the application for legal aid. If the request is made before the Court, the Judicial Officer has the discretion to make an order for legal aid.

STEP 2 - Await to be Recommended/ Approved for Aid

Once the application is completed it would be forwarded to the relevant Court for a Judicial Officer to recommend that the Applicant/ Accused be granted legal aid.

Where the Judicial officer gave the Order in Court, that order will be forwarded to the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority.

STEP 3 - Assignment of a Public Defender

Once the application for legal aid is approved by the Court, it is then transmitted to the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority. For High Court matters, the Public Defenders’ Department would assign either an in-house Public Defender or an external Attorney-at-law to provide legal representation for the Accused in the matter. Assignment is based on nature and type of matter together with level of complexity. All other criminal matters are assigned to external Attorneys-at-Law.

The assigned Public Defender or external Attorney-at-law then represents the client throughout the process from Case Management to Trial.