Legally reviewed by: Kevin Waddingham Updated:

Criminal Legal Aid

Committed criminal legal aid defence lawyers
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Cartwright King’s unique advocacy services mean that our committed Criminal Legal Aid Defence Lawyers can represent you from the police station up to the highest courts. You’ll benefit from consistent legal representation from a lawyer who understands your case inside-out, giving you the best possible defence.

Get in touch with the Cartwright King Criminal Defence team now.

Knowing Where You Stand With Legal Aid

If you are interviewed under caution by the police, you are entitled to free and independent legal advice. This means that in the vast majority of cases, it will be covered under legal aid, whatever your financial circumstances are. If you are charged with a criminal offence and have to attend court, you may be entitled to legal aid.

Cartwright King will always advise you on the availability of legal aid. We will find out if you are eligible and then guide you through the process of securing funding to cover your legal costs. Rest assured that our Criminal Legal Aid Lawyers are committed to protecting your rights.

Get in touch to find out if you qualify for legal aid.

Why Choose Cartwright King Criminal Legal Aid Defence Lawyers?

You will benefit from free legal advice at the police station from an experienced lawyer that specialises in criminal defence. Cartwright King’s Criminal Defence Solicitors are the best in the business and based across the country, meaning that we are available immediately to represent you no matter what police station you’re taken to.

70% of our cases involve defending against criminal charges. Our reputation is built on successfully clearing people accused of criminal activity. We’re reliable, resourceful and calm under pressure, giving you defence counsel that you can count on.

If you’re arrested, invited to attend a police interview, charged or summoned to court, we can provide free legal advice and representation no matter what part of the UK you are located in.

Next Steps

If you’re arrested, tell the police that you want Cartwright King to represent you. You can then call us for free representation. When facing questioning at a police station, there’s no substitute for talking to a specialist Criminal Defence Lawyer.

Should you be charged, you may be entitled to further funding as your case progresses. To discuss your eligibility, don’t hesitate to contact us, either by calling or sending an email.

The conversation, which is completely free, informal, and confidential allows us to:

  • Understand your circumstances
  • Discover your legal aid eligibility and decide what should be done next

We're here for you.

Frequently asked questions.

What Is Legal Aid and In What Cases You Can Apply For It?

To put it simply, the purpose of legal aid is to help those who don’t have enough money to pay for legal representation or advice. Not in every case will you be eligible for legal aid.

Community Care

When it comes to community care, you can get legal aid for:

  • disputes about neglect issues or abuse
  • disputes about the quality of care in medical institutions, such as hospitals or nursing homes
  • advice about help or services from your local authority, as well as the NHS due to illness, disability or mental capacity

Criminal Cases

All criminal cases are eligible for legal aid, apart from specific minor offences, for example, speeding.


Legal aid is available if:

  • there’s a chance you might lose your home because of outstanding payments on your mortgage
  • the company or individual you owe money to is causing you to go bankrupt
  • the company or individual you owe money to is taking you to court in order to sell your house


If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can get legal aid.


You can apply for legal aid if you disagree with the decision about your child requiring special education needs.


  • You might be able to get legal aid for:applications for forced marriage protection orders
  • cases when a child is taken from the territory of the UK without consent of the parent or legal guardian
  • family mediation, in order to resolve disputes about finances and children after a relationship has fallen apart
  • other family problems, for example, advice on divorce, if you or your child have experienced or are at risk of violence or abuse


When it comes to cases that are eligible for legal aid in terms of housing, we include:

  • unlawful eviction
  • antisocial behaviour cases
  • harassment injunctions (court orders)
  • possession claims
  • homelessness (also includes, for example, asylum support for accommodation)

Mental Capacity and Mental Health

Legal aid is available for:

  • representation at mental health tribunals in case you are detained in a hospital
  • advice if you’ve been sectioned

Welfare Benefits and Council Tax Reduction

You can apply for legal aid for appeals on the point of law to the:

  • High Court
  • Court of Appeal
  • Supreme Court
  • Upper Tribunal

Can I Get Legal Aid for Appearing at the Magistrates’ Court?

Cartwright King is one of the biggest providers of Legal Aid in the Country. We pride ourselves on being able to offer our services under 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, it is determined 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 to 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 unemployed and/or not claiming any benefits then you should have no issues successfully passing the means test by declaring you have no income.

If you are employed then you will have to evidence your income by providing wage slips or other means to confirm your income. There are eligibility thresholds in relation to your disposable income which will dictate whether you will qualify for legal aid.

Please be assured that we have experts waiting for your call to assist with an application for legal aid. We understand that facing criminal proceedings can be a very stressful process. Our experts are here to guide you through the process and ensure that you can benefit from public funding where applicable.

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.

Can I get Legal Aid for appearing at Crown Court?

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 a disposable income of less than £37,000 per annum. You may have to pay a contribution towards it which is assessed by the agency and usually payable over six 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 jobseeker’s 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 can help you 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.

What our clients are saying about us

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  • Chet Desai is amazing 

    Chet Desai is amazing. Great support and advice. He even attended a meeting with me at very last minute. Highly recommend
    Meera Pala, (November 2023)
  • Great help with the ILR application 

    Sherena Lawrence has provided excellent support throughout my application for Indefinite Leave to Remain. At every step of the process, she explained in detail what needed to be done. Sherena ... Read more Great help with the ILR application
    Ilia, (November 2023)
  • Recommend 

    Sharad came as a recommendation from another solicitor and I am hugely grateful that he was. The advice, support and professionalism was reassuring at time when I was at a ... Read more Recommend
    Andrew Buglass, (November 2023)
  • Absolutely amazing 

    Honestly, amazing experience with our lawyer Sherena Lawrence. Very professional, knows her stuff, kept us updated instantly, kept us feeling prioritised. We had a positive outcome of our case and ... Read more Absolutely amazing
    Salah Salem, Review Solicitors (November 2023)
  • Fantastic, friendly service 

    Was in need of a criminal defence solicitor recently , I contacted Cartwright King via there website and received a call from James within hours , visited the office the ... Read more Fantastic, friendly service
    Carla Auty, (October 2023)
  • Great 

    If you are looking for a family child care firm then I would most definitely recommend Cartwright King. Fiona Bowen was great with communication both via emails and phone calls. ... Read more Great
    JS, (October 2023)
  • Professional but Human! 

    Leanne was a pleasure to deal with despite the nature of my case. Leanne and her team were amazing both in court and out of court. Communication between Leanne and ... Read more Professional but Human!
    Ben, Review Solicitors (October 2023)
  • Best choice 

    Having done my research and reading reviews I decided on Cartwright King. I am so glad I did. The best decision I made. Communication with James started straight away he ... Read more Best choice
    Client, Review Solicitors (September 2023)
  • Caring and Professional 

    Abbie gave clear and honest advice on my case and helped lift some of the burden. A most pleasant and caring solicitor.
    Richard, Review Solicitors (September 2023)