Client Care | Legal Aid | Criminal Law
We will always apply for Legal Aid on your behalf where it is available.
At the Police Station
Any advice and assistance that we give you whilst at a police station is free of charge.
Legal Aid to cover any advice or assistance we give you outside the police station requires an application to be made on your behalf which is based on your financial circumstances. We will be able to advise you on your eligibility and make an application if possible.
At the Magistrates’ Court
Further Legal Aid is available if your case proceeds to the Magistrates’ Court, subject to your means and the type of case. If you are eligible we will submit an application as soon as possible. Please note that you may need to provide the court with evidence as to your income or means. We will tell you what evidence is required. Please deal with any requests quickly to avoid your application being delayed or not being granted at all.
If your financial position changes during the case please contact me, as this may affect your eligibility and your Legal Aid may be discharged or revoked. This could make you liable to pay all costs incurred throughout the case.
At the Crown Court
If your case goes to the Crown Court you will qualify for legal aid provided your household disposable income is below a certain level.
If you do qualify for legal aid you may have to pay towards the cost of your defence. This could be from your income while the case is ongoing and/or from your capital if you are convicted.
You will be asked to provide evidence of your income and assets. If you do not, your payments could be increased which could result in you paying more towards your defence costs. If you do not tell the truth on your legal aid application about your income, assets and expenditure you could be prosecuted.
Both with Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court Legal Aid, You will not have to pay towards the costs of your case if you are under 18 when you make your application or if you receive any of the following benefits: income support, income based jobseeker’s allowance, guaranteed state pension credit or income related employment and support allowance.
If your monthly disposable income is above a certain level you will receive a Contribution Order from the court setting out the payments you must make and when. If you do not pay on time the Collection Enforcement Agency have a wide range of sanctions to enforce payment as well as charging interest on outstanding sums. You must tell the court about any changes to your financial circumstances during your case because a change my affect the amount you have to pay towards your defence costs. If you don’t think you can afford to pay, or you think that a mistake has been made, you can ask for a review of the amount.
If you have a disposable income of more than £37,500 per year then you will not qualify for Legal Aid in the Crown Court. If you cannot afford to pay privately you can apply to the Legal Aid Agency for an Eligibility Review and we will be able to assist you with that in terms of the further documentation required.
At the end of the case, if you are found not guilty, any payments you have made will be refunded with interest. If you paid late or not at all and action was taken against you, the cost of that action will be deducted from the refund. If you are found guilty, you may have to pay towards your defence costs from any capital assets you may have. This would apply if:
- You have £30,000 or more of assets, for example: savings, equity in property, shares or Premium Bonds
- Any payments you have already made have not covered your total defence costs.
You will be told at the end of your case by the Legal Aid Agency if you have to make a payment from capital.
If you are found not guilty of some charges, and guilty of others, then you can apply for a refund of some of your costs. You have to provide the court with reasons as to why it would be manifestly unreasonable for you to pay the full costs and this must be done within 21 days from the date of sentence or Order. Please note it is your responsibility to do this but of course we will provide the guidance that you need.
You also need to be aware that if the case goes to court and you are either found guilty or you plead guilty and are sentenced then you are liable to pay a contribution towards the costs of the prosecution.
PRIVATE COSTS AND DEFENCE COSTS ORDERS
If we find that you will have to pay privately for advice and representation then we will discuss our costs with you. We adopt a transparent policy on costs. We will talk this through with you at the earliest opportunity and provide you with a quote wherever possible. We will also be very happy to discuss with you a plan as to how the costs of your case might be paid for.
If you do pay us privately and are subsequently found not guilty after a trial in the Magistrates’ Court, then you can apply for the return of your legal defence costs. The amount allowed by the court will be limited to legal aid rates and you will not get all your legal costs returned to you.
Other legal bodies such as a company are excluded from the scheme.
We would add that if a Defence Costs Order is made allowing you to recover some of your legal costs and you wish us to deal with the claim, we will charge you a fee equal to 20% of the value of the claim plus vat.
Please be aware that if your case is one that goes to the Crown Court and you are paying privately then there is no entitlement for you to recover your costs from public funds.
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