Skip to main content

Criminal Legal Aid

If you have been arrested or have to attend an interview by the Police under caution, by law you are always entitled to free legal advice and representation. If you are subsequently charged with an offence or are summoned to appear before Court, then you may be entitled to Legal Aid if you meet the necessary criteria.

At Cartwright King, we will always advise you as to the availability of Legal Aid and whether you might have to make a contribution to the cost of your defence.  If you have been arrested or charged with an offence, it is in your best interests to acquire professional legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Our solicitors will obtain the relevant information to determine if you are entitled to legal aid and guide you through the procedures to secure it.

Free Police Station advice and initial telephone consultation

Everyone has the right to free legal advice when at the Police Station. Our experienced lawyers are available at any time of day or night to help you and make sure your position is protected and that your defence is properly presented. If you are arrested remember to tell the Police that you want to be represented by Cartwright King. Our highly skilled Criminal Defence team are here to take the worry off your hands. We can also provide an initial telephone consultation to see how we can assist in your case. Please call us on 0808 168 5550 or email

Legal Aid and the law 

Magistrate’s Court and Legal Aid 

In order for you to acquire Legal Aid, you must first make an application to the Magistrate's Court. This application can be broken down into two tests which are known as:

Interests of Justice Test – This is the first test of the two which you must pass. At this stage of the application, to determine whether your case has the features that might warrant legal representation. Legal Aid is rarely available for offences that do not carry imprisonment as a possible sentence. However if you suffer some disability that would make it difficult for you to properly represent your case Legal Aid may be available. In a case that is imprisonable  whether or not Legal Aid is granted will depend on other factors including; how serious the charges are, whether you admit them or not, how complex your defence might be, whether witnesses have to be located and how easy it would be for you to challenge the Prosecution yourself.

Means Test – This second test will be based on your financial situation. If you are claiming certain benefits which include JSA, income support or a guaranteed pension then you will automatically pass this test and be eligible for Legal Aid. If you are not in receipt of these “passport benefits the level of your income has to be calculated and documented. 

If you and/or your partner receive an income other than benefits which is £21,000 or more, then you will not be eligible for Legal Aid. Additionally, if you are single and your gross income per year is above £11,590 you will not be entitled to Legal Aid. Please note that if you earn between £11,590 and £21,000 it may be possible to make a claim taking some expenses into account.

In every application you have to consent to the Legal Aid Agency making enquiry of the Benefits Agencies and the Inland Revenue to confirm your finances and provide documentary evidence of wages and other income. You commit a serious offence if you give false information on the application.

Crown Court and Legal Aid

The same rules apply if your case goes to the Crown Court and it is clearly very likely that the Interests of Justice test will be passed. However in the Crown Court even if your income is above the Magistrate’s limits you will be granted Legal Aid provided that you have an income of less than £37000 per annum. You may have to pay a contribution towards it which is assessed by the Agency and usually payable over 6 months. 

The contribution rules are complex and our lawyers will discuss these matters with you to ensure you receive the most cost effective representation.

If by the end of your case you are found not guilty, then any contribution you have made will normally be refunded with interest unless you paid late or not at all. Additionally, depending on the circumstances, if you are found guilty you may be required to pay towards your defence costs.  On a finding of guilt you will be required to contribute to the costs of the prosecution.

It is also worth noting that you will not have to pay any costs towards your case if the following applies to you:

  • If you are under the age of 18
  • Claim Jobseekers Allowance
  • Claim income support
  • Claim employment and/or support allowance
  • Have/will have state pension credit

In relation to your finances, you must also notify the Court of any changes to your financial circumstances as this will affect the amount you will have to pay for your defence costs. If there is a discrepancy in relation to this, you can ask for a review but you must provide the correct documents to support your claims. 

If you are not sure whether you are entitled to Legal Aid, our Criminal Defence Solicitors are available to find out. If you are, they will be able to collate any required documents on your behalf to support your case in acquiring Legal Aid for your trial.

What are the consequences of providing false information on your application form?

If you give false information on your application form to avoid paying fees, then you are committing fraud. Depending on the information you have submitted and the surrounding circumstances, you could face a prison sentence. It is therefore vital that you submit the correct information and the required documents to support your claims.

How can we help you?

If you wish to apply for Legal Aid, our experienced Criminal Defence Solicitors are available to advise you throughout the entire process and help support your case. We promise to:

  • Advise you throughout the entire process
  • Seek legal aid for you subject to your finances
  • Deal confidentially with any concerns you may have
  • Prepare and collate any and all documentary evidence that may be required
  • Take the worry off your hands
  • Prepare an appeal if necessary

Our team are highly ranked in the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners guides. We have extensive experience in successfully defending people in many areas of law.

Why Choose Us?

At Cartwright King, our solicitors acknowledge your right to Legal Aid funding if you meet the specific criteria. We are available to support you throughout the entire process and your claim overall.

How to make contact

If you require legal advice or if you would like a no obligation, free initial telephone discussion, then please call us on 0808 168 5550. Alternatively you can email the Criminal Defence team on and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Our Criminal Defence Solicitors can provide advice and are happy to meet at a time and location that suits you. We also have a network of offices in BirminghamBedfordDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleManchesterMiddlesbroughNorthamptonNottingham and Sheffield.

Email you enquiry:

Email your Enquiry

Please complete the form below providing a brief outline of your query, and a member of our friendly team will be in touch with you shortly.

Please note that this is only a PROVISIONAL appointment time, a member of our team will either confirm the request, or provide the closest alternative option available.


What clients say about us


Please provide a brief outline of your query below, and one of our specialist team members will be in touch with you shortly.


Head of Crime

Criminal Defence

Head of Team

Criminal Defence

Head of Team

Criminal Defence

The Legal 500 - The Clients Guide to Law Firms
Email Cartwright King Solicitors
Call Cartwright King Solicitors