Criminal Legal Aid - if accused of a crime
Legal Aid is available to everyone, regardless of the level of their income, in the following circumstances:
1. Advice, assistance and representation by a solicitor acting as a court duty solicitor.
2. Police station advice and assistance, whether attending the police station voluntarily or being held there after arrest.
3. Representation on an application for a warrant of further detention or an extension to such a warrant.
A Representation Order is needed to finance court proceedings. A Representation Order will be granted if it is "in the interests of justice". The court will have to consider whether:
a) The person applying would lose his of her liberty, or
b) Has been given a suspended or non-custodial sentence already, or
c) Likely to lose livelihood, or
d) Likely to suffer serious damage to their reputation, or
e) The proceedings involve consideration of a substantial question of law, or
f) The person may be unable to understand the proceedings or to state his own case, or
g) The proceedings may involve tracing, interviewing or the expert cross-examination of witnesses on their behalf, or
h) It is in the interests of another person that the individual is represented.
An application for Legal Aid in the form of a Representation Order can be made in the magistrates court or the crown court and will be made by the applicant's legal representative completing the appropriate form and submitting it to the court. Applications are means tested in the magistrates court and the crown court.
As from 27th January 2014 Legal Aid is only available to a person involved in a crown court trial, if their annual household income is less than £37,500.
If you are in receipt of Income Support, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-based Employment & Support Allowance, Guaranteed State Pension Credit, Universal Credit, or if you are under 18, you will automatically be entitled to Legal Aid.
If you earn less than £12,475 you will receive Legal Aid in the Magistrates Court and will not have to pay a contribution. You will automatically be entitled to representation in the Crown Court.
If you earn more than £12,475, but less than £22,325 you will have to undergo a means-test to decide if you have to pay a contribution towards your legal costs in both the magistrates and the crown court.
If you earn more than £22,325 you will not be eligible for legal aid in the magistrates court, but you will have to undergo a means-test in the crown court to decide if you are eligible.
If you earn £37,500 or more you will not be eligible for legal aid in the crown court, (eligibility stops in the magistrates court at £22,325).