Legal aid for criminal defence

Legal aid is offered by Jason Nicholson Solicitors.  Only certain firms of solicitors appointed by the Legal Aid Agency can offer legal aid.

Legal aid is where the government pays your legal costs if you are unable to afford them and is available at this practice in the following area of law:

  • Criminal Defence

The provision of a solicitor at the police station is always covered by legal aid regardless of a person’s financial means.  Legal aid in the courts is by way of a representation order.

If you are in receipt of Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or Pension Credit you should qualify automatically for free legal aid. If you are in receipt of other benefits or are on a low income, legal aid may still be free and we will be able to assess if you qualify.  If you can afford it you will have to pay some money yourself.  This is called a contribution.

Two stage test for legal aid

The first stage is the seriousness of the offence.

The applicant has to show the court that it is in the interest of justice that a representation order is granted. This is decided on the seriousness of the allegation and the effect on the applicant.

As an example, if someone with countless previous convictions for shop theft is charged with one minor shop theft, it may be that it isn’t in the interests of justice to grant an order. If the applicant has no previous convictions and a conviction would result in the loss of good character then a Representation Order ( legal aid ) may be granted.

We will advise you on completing the application.

What we need from you:

  • National Inurance Number or letter confirming your benefits
  • Proof of how much money you make (with benefits) and how much you spend on your main bills.
  • If your employed: latest pay slip.
  • If your self employed: latest full self-assessment tax return form or latest set of accounts.
  • if your paid in cash: letter from your employer confirming your earnings.

If you are not entitled to legal aid we may still be able to help you. We will discuss with you suitable alternative funding arrangements. Contact us for more information.

Will I get first class representation on legal aid

The representation you get will be no different to that which you would get if you were paying privately. The same solicitors do both legal aid and privately funded work, as do the barristers we would brief on your behalf.

Funding a defence case privately 

For some cases, even cases where the result may impact severely on the applicant, such as Drink Driving, the court are unlikely to grant a representation order, regardless of means. This may change in cases where the alcohol level is very high, but if your job depends on having a driving licence even a low reading can spell disaster. If you have been charged with a road traffic offence, legal aid is unlikely to be available. The means testing of legal aid in the Magistrates court means that some fairly serious charges will not be covered by legal aid. In these cases we can advise of the likely cost of representation. We will also keep you updated of how much the case will cost as it progresses through the system. Many cases can be concluded in one hearing so the quantification of cost is straight forward.