Public Defender of the Union
Brazilian citizens and foreigners, who need legal, judicial and extra judicial assistance, and demonstrate a lack of resources, can count on the free services of the Public Defender of the Union (DPU). The agency ensures access to justice by allowing an adequate defense of which the individual can participate actively.
Every person with a family income less than the exemption limit of income tax, currently at R$ 1,637.11, is entitled to free legal aid. However, if this level is exceeded, the free service can be provided, if the individual demonstrates extraordinary expenses such as costs of medication and special food.
The Legal assistance can defend citizens in civil or criminal proceedings in the Judiciary, make appeals to the courts and file a suit. Another type of service is the extrajudicial legal assistance, which provides guidance and legal advice, and represents the citizens in cases involving the federal public administration.
Public defenders are professionals approved in civil service examination, with at least two years of legal experience. They are independent to act in the interests of citizens and should also act against the state, without being punished. They also represent the citizen against the Union's independent agencies, entities and federal public agencies, such as the National Social Security Institute (INSS) and the Army.
Public defenders work in the following legal proceedings:
• Federal Court - it judges cases in which the Federal Government, independent agencies (such as public banks, social security institutes, etc.), Federal public corporations and entities are involved;
• Military Justice - it persecutes and judges crimes committed by military personnel. Members of the Armed Forces, the Navy, the Army, the Brazilian Air Force, the civil police, the military and firefighters may be judged by it;
• Electoral Court - it judges actions involving the Brazilian elections. They also organize, supervise and determine the election result in the country;
• Labor Court - it judges cases between workers and employers, whether Brazilians or foreigners. Both can appeal to the Labor Court if they feel their rights are affected;
• High Courts - are the five highest organs of the Judiciary: the Supreme Federal Court, the Superior Labor Court, the Superior Court of Justice, The Military Supreme Court and the Superior Electoral Court. Learn more about the Brazilian Judiciary;
• Supreme Federal Court - defends the Federal Constitution and has control of the constitutionality of laws and federal and state normative acts.
• Special Federal Courts - enables faster resolution of simpler processes, related to the granting of pensions, revision of pension benefits and claims against the federal government, federal independent agencies or public company. In some cases, you don't need to have a lawyer.
Source: (content in portuguese)
Ministry of Justice