If you are suspected of committing a criminal offence, you are entitled to be assisted by defence counsel. Where the offence is of a more serious nature and could carry a penalty above a certain level of severity, you have the right to public defence counsel, i.e. a defence lawyer appointed by the court. If you are acquitted, or are convicted but lack the means to pay for your defence, the cost will be met by the state. A person who is better off financially may have to pay back part or the whole of the cost of their defence to the state.
Where the offence you are suspected of is less serious, you will not always be entitled to public defence counsel, but you can always instruct a defence lawyer on a private basis.