Legal Aid in the Crown Court
Legal Aid is available for defending Crown Court proceedings. It will always be granted on the merits of the case, but is subject to a means test. The legal aid certificate can be granted with or without a contribution from your monthly income.
Even if you do not have to pay an income contribution you might have sufficient capital to mean that money is collected from that capital at the conclusion of the case. Although the monthly income level is set reasonably high, it can be that you will not qualify at all for Crown Court Legal Aid.
Bearing in mind the stress to you that defending proceedings will involve, we recognise that it is important that your defence is affordable. As a result we will provide you with all of the alternatives available to you in the funding of your case.
An application for legal aid will have several benefits:
- if you win your case any contributions you make will be returned to you
- if you are not entitled to legal aid and win your case then you will be able to apply for a proportion of your fees to be repaid from central funds
- it is likely to make your representation by litigator and advocate more affordable, particularly if the case involves the instruction of expert witnesses
The first step will be to submit an application for legal aid, having taken all of the information necessary for the legal aid means test to be undertaken. Documentary evidence in support of your income and expenditure will need to be submitted to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) in due course, but the initial decision will be made upon the basis of the fully completed form.
The initial response from the LAA will indicate whether or not a contribution will be required from your income. Unfortunately, there will be no indication as to the level of any capital contribution. This will be calculated at the conclusion of your case if you plead or are found guilty.
When you receive notification of any income contribution it might be that it may appear difficult to afford. This is because the expenditure that is offset against your income is very limited. At this stage we will help you decide whether you ought to accept the offer of legal aid.
We will be able to calculate the likely cost of the preparation and the advocacy involved in your case and in many cases will be able to undertake the work on a private basis, but with fees limited to the amount that we would recover from the Legal Aid Agency.
This might be particularly attractive where you know that you will be pleading guilty so will not be entitled to recover costs, your monthly contribution is high and the case is likely to take several months to conclude.
It might be less helpful in a denied matter involving a substantial amount of work and a lengthy trial.
We will take the time to discuss all of your options with you to allow you to make the right decision as to how best to fund your case. If you have a case you wish to discuss then please contact your nearest office or email us here.