Do I qualify for Legal Aid?
Legal aid is administered by the Legal Aid Authority and can only be provided by firms who have demonstrated an appropriate level of expertise, and have been awarded a contract to supply criminal legal aid. Each stage of a criminal case is governed by different rules.
Anyone arrested and detained at a police station is entitled to free independent legal advice. This advice may be on the telephone or in person.
This advice is only free if provided under a criminal legal aid contract. It is highly recommended that anyone who attends the police station to be questioned by the police seeks legal advice from an experienced criminal legal aid lawyer before answering any questions
In order to qualify for criminal legal aid in magistrates court proceeding two tests must be satisfied.
The first test is whether or not it is in the interests of justice for legal aid to be granted.
This test is likely to be passed if there is a risk of :
Being sent to prison
Losing your job
Suffering damage to your reputation
Difficulties in following the Court process
The second test is a financial or means test.
In some circumstances this test is automatically passed if the applicant or their partner is in receipt of a qualifying benefit such as Income Support, JSA, Guaranteed State Pension Credit or they are under 18 years of age. If the test is not automatically passed the details of the applicant’s income and expenditure must be supplied and you will qualify for legal aid:
If your annual income is less than £12,475. If your income is between £12,475 and £22,325 but your monthly spare income is less than £283
Once a case has been transferred to the Crown Court legal aid will be available, however it may be necessary to pay a monthly contribution towards your legal costs over a period of six months. The means test will determine how much you need to contribute towards your defence costs; this could be from your income, capital or a combination of both.
How To Apply For Legal Aid?
Either one or two application forms must be completed and signed by both you and the solicitor’s firm you wish to instruct in order to apply for legal aid.
It is essential to seek expert advice at an early stage from a solicitor specialising in criminal law. If you have been charged with an offence and wish to discuss whether you qualify for legal aid please do not hesitate to contact us.
If You Do Not Qualify For Legal Aid?
If you do not quality for legal aid and your case is being heard in the Magistrates’ Court, you can instruct us to represent you on a private paying basis. We can offer competitive rates with an arrangement to pay in installments.
If you fund your defence privately and are found not guilty, we can apply to reclaim some or all of your defence costs from central funds – however the maximum that can be reclaimed is the same as would have been paid by legal aid.
We do not offer Legal Aid for Family Law matters.