Suspects under arrest at a police station are automatically entitled to free legal advice from a criminal defence lawyer.
Legal Aid – also known as public funding – is, however, means tested and this means that some defendants may not be eligible for Legal Aid if a case goes to a Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.
Defendants with an income of £12,475 or less will always be granted Legal Aid in criminal cases. However, defendants with higher incomes will have to apply for Legal Aid.
There are several factors taken into account by the Legal Aid Agency when assessing whether a defendant is eligible for public funding for their case.
Legal Aid: Means Testing
The Legal Aid Agency takes into account a defendant’s income, living expenses (including rent) and whether or not they are supporting children before deciding on whether to award public funding for a case.
If a defendant is turned down for Legal Aid, it is possible to ask for a review of any additional outgoings they have to pay if these have not been taken into account in the original application for Legal Aid.
Legal Aid: Interests of Justice (IoJ)
The Legal Aid Agency will also take into account the merits of a case when considering awarding Legal Aid to a defendant. This might involve consideration of the nature of an offence and whether a custodial sentence might be likely, as well as whether a defendant has previous convictions.
It is possible to appeal against a decision not to award Legal Aid on the basis of the IoJ test.
Legal Aid: Passporting
There are some circumstances, however, when a defendant will automatically be awarded Legal Aid to pay for their defence costs regardless of the means test and if they have passed the IoJ Test – known as passporting.
Legal Aid will automatically be granted if a defendant is a minor (under 18) and is in receipt of certain welfare benefits:
• Income Support (IS)
• Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
• Universal Credit (UC)
• State Pension Guarantee Credit
• Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Q&A Legal will advise clients on their eligibility for Legal Aid to defend criminal charges once a case has been assessed.
When you are facing a criminal investigation or prosecution, you should seek the very best representation.
Q&A Legal are highly experienced and nationally recognised for their success in defending criminal cases of all levels of seriousness including many high profile cases.
Private legal representation is not the exclusive domain of the wealthy. Many clients are ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances and require a relentless defence of their reputation and livelihood.
Most of our clients do not have access to unlimited funds yet seek to appoint the best possible defence team. We specialise in offering good value for accomplished lawyers who consistently achieve the desired outcome.
We work on every case with commitment and dedication, leaving no stone unturned.
Our lawyers travel around the country, work long hours and make themselves available to you at all reasonable times.
We work in conjunction with experienced barristers and Queen’s Counsel and we have secured acquittals in cases involving allegations of murder, drug importation and many conspiracy offences as well as a host of other serious charges.
We are experienced in working hard in the early stage of police interviews to avert prosecution altogether.