Is legal aid funding available for my case?
Legal Aid provides payment to your solicitors by the government.
There are different rules and criteria for different types of cases. Everybody who is interviewed by police as a suspect under caution is entitled to free and independent legal advice. If you are charged, summoned or served with a postal requisition you will need to appear initially before the Magistrates Court.
Legal aid in the Magistrates Court is dependent upon your financial circumstances and the type of case. If your income is below a certain threshold you will then have to go on to pass the “interests of justice test” which considers the merits of the case and other criteria. Whether you are at risk of losing your liberty, livelihood, suffer serious damage to your reputation or a substantial question of law is involved are a few of the examples.
Can I get legal aid at the police station?
Yes, legal aid at a police station is not means tested and therefore everybody who is to be interviewed under caution about a driving offence is entitled to free legal advice in interview. This could be at a police station or by a police officer at another location such as at your home address. The advice can come from either a duty solicitor or a solicitor of your choice providing the company holds a contract with the Legal Aid Agency.
Expert advice at the police station is crucial and the right advice can often make a difference as to whether you are prosecuted or not. If you are employed and charged with an offence you may have to disclose this to your employer and face the consequences of being suspended pending the result of any court case or, at worse, dismissed.
Senior lawyer representation
If you would prefer a Senior Lawyer or Partner to represent you at a police station then this can be arranged on a privately paid basis. This can be either on the basis of an hourly rate or alternatively we can agree a fixed fee in advance, meaning that you will know the exact cost at the outset no matter how long the interview takes.
If you would prefer representation by a Senior Lawyer please contact Lisa Nevitt on 0161 827 9500 or click here to contact the lawyer of your choice directly.
Can I get legal aid at the magistrate’s court?
If you are under 18 or if you receive any of the following benefits you will be financially eligible for legal aid;
- income support
- income-based job seekers allowance
- guarantee state pension credit
- income-based employment support allowance, or
- universal credit
If you have an income greater than £12,475 it is unlikely that you will be eligible for legal aid in the Magistrates Court but if your case is sent to the Crown Court you are likely to be eligible for legal aid once the case is sent. You may have to pay a contribution depending upon your income and other financial factors.
If you are financially eligible, you will still need to pass the interests of justice test. Legal aid is not available for many driving offences as they are not considered serious enough to pass the interests of justice test.
Can I get legal aid at the crown court?
Everybody who appears at the Crown Court passes the interest of justice test and is entitled to legal aid, but this is also subject to their finances.
If you are under 18 or if you receive any of the following benefits you are automatically eligible for legal aid and won’t have to make any contribution;
- Income support
- Income-based job seekers allowance
- guarantee state pension credit
- Income-based employment support allowance, or
- Universal credit
There is an upper threshold which means that if you and your partners income is above a particular level then you may not qualify for legal aid on the basis that you could afford the costs of your defence.
Do I have to pay towards legal aid?
If your disposable income is above a certain level you may have to pay towards the cost of your defence by way of a Contribution Order while your case is ongoing. Contribution Orders are based on a percentage of your disposable income which is paid towards your legal costs for a period of 6 months. If you are found not guilty at the crown court you will be entitled to claim back any contributions you have paid. If you are convicted and any contributions do not cover the total costs of your defence, the Legal Aid Agency may seek to obtain further costs from you if your capital is in excess of £30,000 .
What other funding options are there?