Legal Aid

Funding

Legal Aid at the Police Station

Everyone person detained at a Police Station has the right to free and independent legal advice whilst they are detained at the police station. If you know someone who is currently detained at a police station call us now on our 24 hour emergency police station advice line on 07932617383 for an immediate response. If you have already attended the police station and have to go back, you too will be entitled to free and independent legal advice. Contact us now or request a call back. We will contact the police on your behalf before you are due to return and ensure that your time is not wasted. If you had a solicitor whilst you were at the police station and are now looking for a specialist to take conduct of your case, call us today to see how we can help. Our service will still be free to you.

Legal Aid in the Magistrates Courts

Legal aid in a Magistrates Court is available to any Individual charged or summonsed for a criminal offence, subject to the qualifying criteria. The only qualifying criterion for these purposes is a two part test. The Interest of Justice test and the financial means test.

What is the Interest of Justice Test in the Magistrates Court?

The interest of justice test for the purposes of applications for legal aid (or legal representation orders) is based on the circumstances surrounding the charges that you face. In general, your application will pass the test if your case is serious or complicated enough. In the application, our lawyers will be able to determine from the facts of your case and the charges you face whether and to what extent your application will pass the interest of justice test. They will consider, elaborate and provide advice on a number of issues based on the circumstances of your case, such as: - The likelihood of a Prison Sentence if you were to be found guilty or pleaded guilty - The complexity of the factual circumstances - The complexity of the law as applied to your case - Whether and to what extent witnesses may be required in your case - Whether and to what extent it would be in the interest of others for you to be represented.

What is the Means Test for Magistrate’s Court Applications?

For the purposes of legal aid applications or applications for legal representation orders, the application is subjected to a means test. This is essentially a test to determine whether you are financially entitled to legal aid based on your income. There are a number of “qualifying benefits”. If you or your partner is in receipt of any of the qualifying benefits you will automatically pass the means test. As a general rule: - If you are employed and earn less that £12,500 each year, you will pass the means test. You will need to provide documentary evidence of proof of your income over a continuous period (usually 3 wage slips). - If you earn more than £24,000 it is unlikely that you will not pass the means test. - Those who earn more than £12,500 but less that £24000 can undertake a full means test to determine whether you qualify. This will be a full assessment covering the entirety of your income, your family circumstances (dependants etc) and your essential living costs like your mortgage or your rent payments. The test is designed to determine if you can afford to pay your defence costs. Following this, a formula is used to determine your disposable income to assess whether you pass this test or not. - Those who are self-employed, company Directors or who own property will need to undergo a vastly more complicated assessment by National Assessors to decide whether they qualify. All Applicants for Legal Aid should be prepared to provide full written details of their total income and expenditure at the time of their application.

Legal Aid in the Crown Court

Subject to the qualifying criteria, Legal aid in the Crown Court will be available to you if you have been charged with or summonsed in respect of a criminal offence. The qualifying criterion for these purposes is a two part test. The Interest of Justice test and the financial means test.

The Interest of Justice

For the purposes of applications for legal aid (or legal representation orders) the interest of justice test is based on the circumstances surrounding the charges that you face. If your case is being heard in the Crown Court, it is generally the case that this test will be passed. When preparing the application, our lawyers will be able to draft your application to demonstrate that it would be in the interest of justice that you granted a representation order (legal aid).

What is the Financial Means Test in the Crown Court?

If you or your partner are in receipt of a qualifying benefit or you earn less than (approx.) £12,500 a year you will usually be entitled to free Legal Aid. This means that you would not have to pay a contribution towards your legal fees. If you have more than £283 of disposable income each month, you will have to pay a financial contribution toward the cost of your legal representation. These payments will have to be made in five instalments. It is important that you follow the guidance on the notification of grant of legal aid as sanctions can be applied for either late or non-payment of contributions. You will be advised in writing of the required contribution, the dates by which you are required to make payment and the sanctions should you fail to comply. On occasion, you may find that your Contribution payments towards your legal aid may exceed the fees that we would be prepared to charge you. We will give you an honest and fair appraisal and we always ensure that our fees are realistic and fair. In either event, you should be aware that if you plead guilty or you are found guilty you may have to pay a contribution towards your legal costs if you have savings or other capital that total more than £30,000. Where you are found not guilty of all of the criminal charges you face or where the case is against you is dropped or discontinued, any legal aid contributions that you have made toward your legal representation will be refunded to you.

How do I Apply for Legal Aid?

Legal Aid is applied for by completing just two forms. These are a CRM14 and a CRM15. We can assist in the completion of the applications for legal representation (legal aid) for you and submit your application on your behalf to the relevant court or centralised processing centres. Your application for legal aid (or a legal representation order) will be considered by one of the courts or legal aid processing centresand will then advise you of the outcome of your application for legal aid. Due to the large number of applications for legal aid that are processed, it is important to make an application for legal aid as soon as possible in your criminal case to be represented by criminal defence solicitors. Where an application for legal aid or legal representation has been refused we can advise on appealing the refusal of legal aid. We will consider the reasons for the refusal of your application for legal aid and discuss this with you. Once we have established the reasons for the refusal of legal aid, we can appeal this decision with a view to securing a favourable outcome and the grant of legal aid for you to be represented by one of best criminal defence solicitors in your criminal case. Contact us today or request call back and we will call you at your convenience.

Fixed Fees

Depending on the nature of the case or the charges that you face, we will consider the facts and circumstances and will consider what type of fee would be in your interest. A fixed fee, will give you a great deal of certainty and you will know exactly what you have to pay and by when. You will find our fixed fee rates to be fair and very competitive without any compromise on quality. Contact us today or request call back and we will call you at your convenience to discuss how we can help you.

Capped Fees

Depending on the nature of your case or the charges that you face, we will consider whether it is in your interest to have a fixed fee, a capped fee or base your cost on an hourly rate. Capped fees, are where our fees are based on an hourly rate but capped, so you have certainty that our fees will not go over an agreed amount. If the work that we have done is less than the cap then that is what you pay. If the work that we have done is over the agreed Cap, then you only pay the capped fee. Contact us today or request call back and we will call you at your convenience to discuss how we can help you.

Hourly Rates

In some cases, we will agree an hourly rate with you in advance in respect of the work on your case. We will provide you with an estimate of the overall cost of your case at the outset and advise you of any change as your case progresses, including the reasons why our cost estimate has changed (if at all). We will keep you informed of the cost incurred at regular intervals. You will find that our hourly rates are extremely competitive and fair without compromising on quality. Contact us today or request call back and we will call you at your convenience to discuss how we can help you.

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SJ LAW
LONDON SOLICITORS

157a High Street
London E17 7BX

020 8520 6600
info@sj-law.co.uk

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