Who can be a defence counsel and how does the accused obtain a defence counsel?
Everybody who is accused of a crime is entitled to appoint a defence counsel. The costs are generally borne by the accused or defendant himself. In some cases, a public defender is appointed. This is for example the case if the defendant has been charged with a crime (minimum 1-year prison sentence) or has been remanded in custody. This is based on the rule of law, according to which everyone is entitled to an effective defence of their rights. The public defender is not financed by the state. In the event of a conviction, the defendant bears the costs.
What can a defender do for the accused?
The defender advises and assists his client. The defender protects the rights of the accused/defendant under the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO). He also can submit statements for his client.
Is the accused forced to take a defence counsel?
The accused is generally free to decide whether or not to retain counsel. However, in some cases (e.g. for criminal offences) a defence counsel is mandatory by law.