Am I eligible to receive Legal Aid?
Interests Of Justice – Generally, the more serious the charge or more serious the possible consequences if you are convicted and sentenced for the offence, means the more likely your case will meet the IOJ test. The main factors that court take into consideration are:-
- It is likely that you will lose your liberty (be sent to prison or be committed to a Mental Hospital)
- You are already on a suspended sentence or a community order that means you are likely to be re-sentenced for the original offence
- It is likely that you will lose your livelihood
- It is likely that you will suffer serious damage to your reputation
- A substantial question of law may be involved
- You may not be able to understand the court proceedings or present your own case
- You may need witnesses to be traced or interviewed on your behalf
- The proceedings may involve expert cross-examination of a prosecution witness
- It is in the interests of another person that you are represented
Interests Of Justice Appeals – If legal aid is refused on the grounds that the case does not meet the IoJ test you (through your Solicitors) can appeal by adding new information to the original application OR writing a letter to the court requesting an appeal. The magistrates will then decide whether or not to grant Legal Aid.
Means Testing – The means test looks at your income, family circumstances (number and age of any children) and importantly essential living costs like mortgage or rent.
Generally, if the household income (total of your gross income and partner’s gross income taking into consideration family circumstances) is below £12,475 you will be eligible for legal aid. Between £12,475 and £22,325 requires a full assessment and over £22,325 would ordinarily fail in the Magistrates Court but would allow an Income Contribution in the Crown Court.
The table below is designed to use a quick reference tool by Solicitors to get an indication of the likely outcome of a means assessment based on a set of generic family circumstances and incomes.
It is advisable to seek guidance from a Solicitor before placing reliance on this table but it is included to give you an idea of the figures involved.
|Total Gross Household income||Applicant||Applicant & Partner||Applicant & Child (5+)||Applicant & Child (2+)||Applicant, partner &Â two children (aged 8 and 12)|
|£15,000||Depends on outgoing||PASS||PASS||PASS||PASS|
|£19,000||Depends on outgoing||PASS||Depends on outgoing||PASS||PASS|
|£22,325||FAIL||Depends on outgoing||Depends on outgoing||PASS||PASS|
|£25,000||FAIL||Depends on outgoing||Depends on outgoing||Depends on outgoing||PASS|
|£29,000||FAIL||Depends on outgoing||FAIL||Depends on outgoing||PASS|
|£37,000||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||Depends on outgoing||Depends on outgoing|
|£43,500||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||FAIL||Depends on outgoing|
Automatic eligibility for Legal Aid
If you fit ANY of the following criteria, you will automatically qualify for free legal aid:-
- Are under 18
- Receive specific state benefits, which are:
- income support
- income-based job seeker’s allowance
- guaranteed state pension credit
- income-related employment and support allowance
You will still need to complete the paperwork with your chosen Solicitor but the process will be much simpler!
Receiving Legal Aid
Whether you wish to use us or another firm of Solicitors, it will be up to your chosen Solicitors to complete all the necessary paperwork.
Have you previously been refused Legal Aid?
If you have been refused Legal Aid there are really only 2 choices for you.
1) Pay privately for representation and help.
We provide competitive affordable quotes for providing high quality advice and representation so please contact us and take advantage of our free 10 minute chat.
2) Handle it all yourself.
This is possible however it is fraught with risk and could do harm to your case. It is recommended to use a specialist lawyer.