Legal Aid for Criminal Law cases
We are one of a diminishing number of solicitors’ firms that continue to provide legal advice and representation under the criminal legal aid schemes.
There are a number of different types of legal aid available for criminal cases. The following types of legal aid are the most common:
Free and independent legal advice in police interview
Advice and assistance from a legal aid solicitor will always be free of charge for anyone being interviewed by the police. This is true whether you are interview following an arrest on in a voluntary interview. This free legal aid is available when a person is interviewed in the police station or another place, such as your home address.
Being interviewed by the police is stressful enough. The last thing a person will want to worry about is the cost of their legal advice. This is why the advice is always free whatever a person’s personal circumstances. It remains free whatever time of the day or night you are interviewed.
To make sure that you have one of our expert criminal lawyers in interview ask the police to contact VHS Fletchers on arrest. If you know in advance that you are to be interviewed by the police then contact your nearest office to discuss your case and to have a free lawyer with you in interview.
All of our office numbers are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that you can access our expert criminal advice when you most need it.
Magistrates’ Court legal aid
If legal aid is granted for your case in the Magistrates’ Court then the advice and representation that our solicitors give will be free of charge to you. The Legal Aid Agency will also pay for any additional expenses such as an expert’s fee.
For you to get this free legal aid representation then an online application will need to be made. We will help you with this process.
The legal aid decision involves two tests.
The first is the interests of justice test. The Legal Aid Agency will take into account a number of factors such as the risk of prison or loss of your job on conviction, or whether the case involves a complicated point of law. Our solicitors know the circumstances in which the Legal Aid Agency will grant you legal aid so please seek our advice.
The second test is a means test. The Legal Aid Agency will take into account your family income and expenditure when deciding whether you are entitled to legal aid. In certain circumstances you may receive a state benefit that automatically means that you are entitled. In other circumstances, we will need to provide evidence of your income to make sure that all of your relevant financial circumstances are taken into account.
In some cases you might not be entitled to legal aid but our solicitors can make a hardship application on your behalf to allow you to receive free Magistrates’ Court legal aid.
Crown Court legal aid
Legal Aid is available for defending Crown Court proceedings. It will always be granted on the merits of the case although like the Magistrates’ Court, it is subject to a means test. The test is different, however, and the income threshold is set much higher. As a result, Crown Court legal aid 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 enough capital such as savings or equity in your property to mean that a contribution is collected from these sources at the end of your case. This will only happen of you plead guilty or are found guilty after trial.
Most defendants who wish to fight their case at trial ought to apply for Crown Court legal aid. There are several benefits:
- If you win your case any contributions 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 your case involves a long Crown Court trial or involves the instruction of expert witnesses
We offer criminal legal aid in the following areas in Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Newark, Ilkeston and Mansfield.