Criminal Legal Aid
Legal aid is a source of Government funding available to people who otherwise would not be able to afford legal advice or a solicitor to represent them in court.
LEGAL AID – MAGISTRATES COURTTo receive legal aid, an applicant must pass two tests:
- The Interests of Justice Test – This determines whether an applicant is eligible for legal aid based on the merits of their case.
- The Means Test – This test establishes whether an applicant is financially eligible for legal aid, considering income and expenses. Capital is not included.
If you or your partner are in receipt of Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, income based Jobseekers Allowance or Guarantee State Pension Credit, you will automatically pass the means test.
We will advise you whether you are eligible for legal aid and assist you in completing and submitting the relevant application forms, together with supporting documents to the Magistrates Court.
LEGAL AID – CROWN COURT
In relation to matters that are dealt with before a Crown Court, all applicants with a gross household income of less than £37500 will automatically be entitled to the grant of legal aid. A contribution towards the costs of legal aid may be ordered from income, depending upon the outcome of a means test.
The Crown Court will require you to complete a form regarding your income and resources and that form will need to be submitted to the Crown Court on your behalf as soon as possible. It is important that you provide this information since failure to do so may result in an order being made by a Judge that the full costs of your defence are to be paid by you if you are found ‘guilty’.
It is important that you tell the Court Office if your financial circumstances change during the case. You can ask for an estimate of your costs at any time but should remember that this is a maximum that you may have to pay and the court may decide not to make any order at all. We would be happy to discuss all these matters with you if you have any queries.
We are obliged to advise you that at the end of the case and normally only in the event that you are found ‘guilty’, the Crown Court may make a Recovery of Defence Costs Order which requires you to pay a contribution towards the costs of your defence, including the costs of the earlier proceedings in the Magistrates Court.