I need legal counsel in Germany about if someone did something illegal and if so what the penalty for that action is supposed to be, according to the law, and how to actualize that penalty.

I am interested in knowing about free services or services less than 50 Euros per hour, give or take.

I have googled my question and so far I feel that there is too much information and it is not clear what the most normal thing to do would be.

I am aware of legal insurance, but it isn’t usable in the first 30 days of signing up (I believe).

I have found reasonably affordable German legal counsel on Fiverr.

My main question is what the most official governmental service is with regards to this, or what is recognized as a most effective service.

A policeman told me you would go to the Job Center if you wanted to get a free lawyer.

I have also read that free “legal aid” is common in Germany, but so far I am not sure if there’s one standard place for that.

The question is two-fold:

What is the single most canonical official service for this?

I am pretty sure it is this, “Prozesskostenhilfe”.

That webpage links to local “Gerichtsamt”, but the link is broken. I found my local Gerichtsamt by googling.

It appears I can read those PDFs and submit them to the court, but the court has severely negative ratings on Google Maps.

There is also “legal aid” (beratungshilfe), which is free legal consultation, again seemingly at the Amtsgericht.

Those appear to be the central, standard avenues for official legal assistance, although many would advise apprehension regarding the difficulty of navigating German bureaucratic institutions.

So if those are the official services, is there any other canonically advisable service which may be some sort of private service which just happens to be highly effective?

(To give a few examples, apartment hunting is hard in Berlin, but finding an effective service like Housing Anywhere made it easy; I found doctor’s appointments to be a bit inconvenient, until I discovered the AviMedical app.) What is the most high-quality legal service in general, even if private?

  • Your first sentance is not at all clear 'if someone did something illegal' to you, for which you wish to place charges if pratical. Nov 11, 2022 at 7:59
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    Prozesskostenhilfe is for financial assistance for any court proceedings (for or against you), where the Amtsgericht would preview your case and if considered plausible give a voucher for a lawyer. It is not for giving advice if placing charges is worth while or not and how do get it done. That is what Beratungshilfe is for. Nov 11, 2022 at 8:00
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    Allthough Law Stack Exchange will not give legal advice, an answer could give you a list of the relevant law if you supply a short summery of the situation with the relevent information. Nov 11, 2022 at 8:08

2 Answers 2

  • In Germany, only (formally) qualified people are allowed to render legal assistance. There are some specialists for narrow branches of law, but usually this means a lawyer.
  • All practicing lawyers are compulsory members of a/the bar association, 12 Ⅲ BRAO. The respective local bar association maintains a directory of lawyers and feeds their data to the National Register of Lawyers, 31 BRAO.
  • To prevent unfair competition, lawyers may not simply waive mandatory fees as prescribed by law, 4 RVG. The statutory fees vary based on numerous factors, just to give you a rough range €30 – €100 per hour.
  • Other people are not allowed to provide legal assistance (to the public). You are allowed to provide “pre-legal” assistance, i. e. give a rough direction: “yes/no you may/probably don’t have an actionable claim, but to be sure go to a lawyer specialized in whatever”.
    • The Verbraucherzentrale (consumer center) is a well-known address for that. They charge a fee for their services.
    • I imagine, Germany’s AAA, the ADAC, the German Tenant Association DMB, and probably others have similar services (limited to the respective association’s subject area).
    • If you owe money, you go to various advisory services for debtors (Schuldnerberatung).
    • Law schools frequently have some kind of a program meant as a training opportunity for students.
    • In recent decades, volunteers founded “refugee law clinics” (RLCs). They focus on legal issues migrants may face.
  • You go to the job center if you draw unemployment benefits Ⅱ. If you do not draw unemployment benefits Ⅱ, this is the wrong address.
  • The job center only cares to pay for legal aid if it concerns their benefits. Since UBⅡ includes costs of housing (Kosten der Unterkunft), they are particularly interested in assisting you if you are paying too much rent/heating.
  • Prozeßkostenhilfe literally contains the word trial, trial expenses aid. This will cover expenses related to a civil suit. Beside a means test, the application entails a preliminary assessment whether litigation could be successful. This has been criticized.
  • You want to request Beratungshilfe, counselling aid. Following a thorough means test, this covers expenses related to taking a lawyer. The application has to be submitted with the local municipal court (Amtsgericht). Note, this also involves presenting all facts and the court needs to be convinced “Yes, there are potentially some legal troubles that cannot be answered by a layman”. It needs to be facts, asking hypothetical questions is not within the realm of Beratungshilfe.
  • Go to the court house if some web link does not work. They will assist you in filing the application.

There is a difference between criminal and civil law, but either way the legal system is ultra-conservative, demanding a level of personal input no digital app or internet-based service or handy app will be able to provide. Initial advice from the court cited on the papers served should be sought. The duty defence solicitor which a court can employ to act on behalf of an impecunious defendant, is unlikely to gain any Google star ratings given they are often relatively inexperienced young lawyers. Because a lost court case will potentially have very serious implications and consequences for any foreign national, the best specialist lawyer money can buy is strongly advisable in all prosecution cases, but especially under criminal law. Named lawyers have legal obligations as well as their personal reputation to consider, unlike any app or online service with zero accountability.

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    This is really not answering the OP question. Nov 17, 2022 at 11:17

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