Facing criminal charges and need legal help? Contact us, we can help you.
Facing criminal charges and need legal help? Contact us, we can help you.

The PDSO team of solicitors, solicitor-advocates and support staff are ready to help you and fight for the best result for you.


PDSO can provide you with expert legal advice in relation to any criminal matter in Scotland.  There are a number of situations in which you may need our help.

Have you received a fixed penalty offer, Fiscal’s fine or work order?

In March 2008 the Procurator Fiscal was given increased powers to offer larger fixed penalties as an alternative to prosecution.  If these are not challenged within strict time limits they are deemed to have been accepted. If they are then not paid, Fine Enforcement Officers, have powers to recover the amount of the fine.  Call PDSO now to get advice on what you should do.

You can also be offered the chance to do unpaid work in the community as an alternative to prosecution.  If this is not accepted you will be taken to court for the charge.  PDSO can advise you on what this will mean.

Detained or arrested by the police?

If you are detained by the police on suspicion of having committed a crime you can be held in a police station while investigations are carried out for 12 hours. This can be extended to 24 hours in certain circumstances.

You have the legal right to have a lawyer told that you are in the police station and you have the right to have legal advice BEFORE you are questioned. You also have the right to have a lawyer present during any police interview. It is very important that you take up these rights as this police questioning is a vital part of the case.

Getting legal advice and having a lawyer with you to fight for you can mean the difference between being charged with a crime or simply being released. Ask the police to inform the Public Defence Solicitors Office that you are asking for help and we will be there to fight for you.


Do not let the police talk you out of taking up this legal right. If you are worried about waiting in the police station legal advice can be given straight away over the telephone and there is a dedicated 24 hour service that can give that advice.

If you have been detained for a serious matter or you are worried about what is going to happen at all then make sure you insist that a lawyer is present at the interview. PDSO has solicitors on call 24 hours a day across Scotland to help you and we are very experienced at this type of work.

Even if you are not detained but simply arrested by the police you still have the right to have your lawyer told about this. Please make sure you take up this right.

Have you been charged by the police?

If you have been charged by the police, you should call PDSO immediately so that a solicitor can give you expert advice about the charges and what will happen next.  PDSO may have to start preparing your defence straight away to secure vital evidence for you.

Have you been released by police on a bail undertaking?

This means that you have been charged with one or more offences and you have been given a date to attend court by the police. Call PDSO straight away to that we can begin your defence and take
your instructions.  Your PDSO solicitor will be there to represent you at court.

Have you been sent a citation to go court?

This is the most common way in which criminal court cases start. The citation will have a court date and the charges against you.  Call PDSO get advice and arrange representation.  By instructing PDSO in advance you may not need to attend court personally.

Representation in court

The PDSO is a team of specialist criminal court lawyers.  We can represent clients in any court in Scotland.  Our solicitor-advocates can represent clients in the High Court and the Appeal Court and our solicitors in the Sheriff Courts, JP Courts, Stipendiary Courts and Justice of the Peace Courts.  At any court appearance that we represent you we will speak up for you and defend your rights.  We will fight for you.  We have experience of dealing with a huge range of criminal cases at all levels.  Including:

  • Murder
  • Rape and sexual offences
  • Concern in the supply of drugs and all other drugs charges
  • Firearms
  • Internet crime
  • Assault
  • Breach of the Peace
  • Theft, robbery and housebreaking and fraud
  • Fraudulent benefits claims
  • Proceeds of Crime
  • All aspects of Road traffic law

As well as representing you in court we will prepare your defence and keep you updated on progress.  We will investigate the case against you and take statements from defence witnesses and arrange for them to come to court.  It may be appropriate to get expert medical or scientific opinions on evidence to support your case. PDSO will arrange for that. We have full administrative and IT support and resources to prepare your case fully so that we can fight for you.

At your first meeting with PDSO

Your first meeting with a PDSO solicitor will always be free of charge and completely confidential.  No matter what your situation is your PDSO solicitor will listen to you and give you clear and straightforward advice and help.  We will always explain the procedure that will be used in your case and answer your questions.  It is important to bring any documents or paperwork that you have in relation to the case with you.

After discussing the details of your case we will very quickly identify any work that needs to be done to protect your interests.  We will start working straight away to defend you.

At your first meeting with a PDSO solicitor we will advise you on legal aid and complete legal aid applications with you.  Please bring proof of your income or confirmation of any state benefits with you.

Legal aid for your case

PDSO is a not-for-profit organisation that is funded through the Scottish Legal Aid Board.  Our work is covered by legal aid.  There are three main types of legal aid for criminal cases.  These are:

  • Advice and assistance
  • Summary criminal legal aid
  • Criminal court legal aid

Advice and assistance covers work in the initial stages for giving advice and making preliminary investigations in your case.  This is granted by your solicitor on the basis of your income (and that of your partner) after allowances for dependants.  You may be asked to make a modest contribution to the cost of advice and assistance depending on your circumstances.  PDSO will ask you for this but PDSO will never charge you a fee for our work.

To check if you are eligible for advice and assistance in a criminal case you can use the SLAB online calculator.

There is more information on advice and assistance and contributions on the Scottish Legal Aid Board's website.

If you (or your partner) are getting income support or jobseekers allowance you are automatically entitled to advice and assistance and you will not be asked for a contribution.

Summary criminal legal aid covers cases in the JP and Sheriff Court where a trial is fixed.
This is applied for to the Scottish Legal Aid Board and is granted based on your income alone, your outgoings and the interests of justice.  You will not be asked for a contribution for summary criminal legal aid.

Criminal Court Legal Aid is also granted by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. This type of legal aid is for serious cases that would proceed to trial before a jury either in the Sheriff Court or the High Court of Justiciary. PDSO will make the application for you. You will not be asked for a contribution to this type of legal aid.

It is important to remember that even people in full time employment, or who are self employed, can be entitled to legal aid.  Call PDSO now to find out if you are eligible for legal aid.  

More information on criminal legal aid is available on the Scottish Legal Aid Board's website.

Appeal cases

PDSO can deal with your case right from the very beginning through to an appeal if that is appropriate.  Both convictions and sentences can be appealed and there is legal aid available  for appeals.

Even if PDSO has not dealt with your case before, call us now to discusss whether you could appeal.

Are you a non English speaker?

PDSO is able to arrange interpreting services if necessary.  

Clients with a disability

PDSO is committed to equalities.  If you have any special requirements that may mean that you would find visiting our offices challenging, please advise us in advance and we can arrange to meet you at a more suitable location.

Can PDSO help with a civil case? 

PDSO can only deal with criminal cases.  If you need help with a civil case please call the Scottish Legal Aid Board on 0131 226 7061 (Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm) or visit the Civil section of the Scottish Legal Aid Board's website.