Legal Aid is very important to clients with limited means who need representation in the courts. Legal aid is subject to means testing and this is causing considerable delays. If you need legal aid, we will need to submit an application as soon as possible. We can supply you with the necessary forms.
You will normally need to support your application with proof of your income (wage slips for you and your partner) OR a letter from the job centre confirming that you are in receipt of Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Income Support) and proof of your rent or mortgage if it is more than £500 per month. You will usually need to supply 3 months of original bank statements for each account that you hold.
If you or your partner are self employed, you must produce copies of your last set of accounts, and tax calculation, Bank statements for the last 3 months for your business and any other bank accounts that you or your partner have.
Your partner must also complete their details on the forms. If they refuse to sign the form your legal aid may be refused or if the case goes to the Crown Court you may have to pay sanctions by paying increased contributions towards your legal aid.
If your partner is the complainant in this case or they are also accused of the same or similar offences and there is a conflict between you, your partner does not need to provide their details or sign the form.
The information that you supply in these forms will be checked with the Benefits Agency and or the Inland Revenue.
Magistrates Court cases
If your case is dealt with in the Magistrates Court and you have been granted legal aid, you will not have to pay anything for our advice.
Cases Committed to the Crown Court for sentence
If you were granted legal aid in the Magistrates Court and your case has been committed to the Crown court for sentence, your legal aid will continue in the Crown Court and you will not have to pay anything for our costs
Crown Court trials
If your case goes to the Crown Court for trial you will automatically qualify for legally aided representation once you have completed an application form. After you have been means tested, you may have to pay towards the cost of your defence. This could be from your income while the case is ongoing and/or from your capital, if you are convicted.
You will be asked to provide evidence of your income and assets. If you do not provide the evidence at the time of your application or when asked to do so by the Legal Aid Agency, your payments could be increased which would result in you paying more towards your defence costs. If you do not tell the truth on your legal aid application about your income, assets and expenditure you could be prosecuted.
You will not have to pay towards the costs of your case if you are under 18 when you make your application or if you receive any of the following benefits: income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, guaranteed state pension credit or income related employment and support allowance.
You may have to pay towards the costs if your monthly disposable income is above a certain level. If this is the case, you will receive a Contribution Order from the court and you will have to make payments as required under the Order. The first payment will be due within 28 days of your case being committed, sent or transferred for trial. You must tell the court about any changes to your financial circumstances during your case because a change may affect the amount you have to pay 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 court has told you to pay.
At the end of the case
If you are found not guilty, any payments you have made will be refunded with interest. If you paid late or not at all and action was taken against you, the costs of this action will be deducted from the refund.
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 will be told at the end of your case if you have to make a payment from capital.
If legal aid has been granted for you to be represented, you must notify the Legal Aid Agency if there are any changes to your income as this could affect you eligibility to legal aid.
If Representation is refused, you may wish to instruct us privately and we would be pleased to discuss this further with you.
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