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. For example everybody is entitled to free and independent legal advice at a police station if you are arrested or interviewed a suspect under caution. However if you are charged, summoned or served with a postal requisition this means that you will need to appear initially before the Magistrates Court. Legal aid in the Magistrates Court is dependent firstly upon your financial circumstances, therefore 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 is entitled to free legal advice in interview, either at a police station or by a police officer at another location such as at a 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. Legal aid is also available for other interviews under caution such as those conducted by customs officers.
Expert advice at the police station is crucial and the right advice can often make the difference between being charged 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. For more information as to why the right advice is so important and examples see here
Burton Copeland are criminal defence experts and can provide you with specialist advice and representation at the police station from one of our experienced Solicitors, Legal Executives or Police Station Accredited Representatives.
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.
What about other types of interviews?
There are lots of other agencies who also interview suspects under caution and again legal advice is crucial before answering any questions.
Department For Work And Pensions (DWP)
If you are to be interviewed under caution by the DWP you can receive legal aid if you are in receipt of a pass ported benefit. Please contact our police station department on 0161 827 9500 who can explain your options further.
Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS)
If you are to be interviewed under caution by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) ordinarily you cannot receive legal aid. However please contact our team of solicitors who can advise you of your options.
Many other agencies also conduct interviews with individuals under caution such as;
Local Council Counter Fraud Teams
Inland Revenue Fraud Investigations
Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)
Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA)
Anybody interviewed under caution by any of those agencies are also entitled to legal advice and to stop or postpone an interview to obtain legal advice. Legal Aid may be available for interviews conducted by those agencies; it will depend on the circumstances. Legal advice is essential please remember that the purpose of an interview is to obtain evidence against you, so please contact us before answering questions.
Can I get legal aid at the magistrates court?
If you are under 18 or if you receive any of the following benefits you are automatically 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.
You can check if you are eligible using the online financial eligibility calculator on the Legal Aid Agency website here.
Can I get legal aid at the crown court?
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
Do I have to pay towards legal aid?
If your 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 your income and mean that a proportion of your income 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 .
When making your application for legal aid you will be asked to provide evidence of your income and assets. If you do not, your payments could be increased, which would result in you paying more 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 the Legal Aid Agency has told you to pay.
You can check if you will have to make a contribution to your defence costs using the online financial eligibility calculator on the Legal Aid Agency website here.
If you are found guilty, you may have to pay towards your defence costs from any capital assets you may have. This would only apply if:
- You have £30,000 or more of assets, for example: savings, equity in property, shares or Premium Bonds; and
- Any payments you have already made have not covered your total defence costs.
You will be told at the end of your case if you have to make a payment from capital.
What other funding options are there?
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