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Criminal legal aid

If you are taken to a police station and interviewed under caution or arrested, you are entitled to free legal advice regardless of your financial situation.

Legal aid at court
To apply for legal aid at court, you will automatically qualify if you:

  • 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

If these do not apply to you, you may apply for legal aid at court but your case will be subject to the 'interests of justice' test, which considers the merits of your case, and you will be subject to a means test to determine your financial position.

Interests of Justice
The interests of justice test looks at how serious your case is: if you have been charged with a indictable only offence (one that will be heard in the Crown Court) your case will pass the test. However, if you have been charged with a non-imprisonable offence, your case will not pass.

Means Test
The means test will look at how much income you receive and how much capital (such as savings or a house) you own. If your annual income is less than £12,475, you will be able to receive criminal legal aid.

This table shows how much income your household must receive to be eligible for criminal legal aid:

Total Gross Household income Applicant  Applicant & Partner  Applicant  & Child (aged 5) Applicant, partner  & child (aged 2) Applicant, partner & two children (aged 8 and 12) 

 £12,475

or less

Pass   Pass Pass Pass  Pass 
 £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 Fail Fail
 (www.justice.gov.uk - this content is subject to Crown Copyright)

 

How to get criminal legal aid 

 To claim legal aid you will need to call Civil Legal Advice on 0845 345 4345. This line is open from Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and on Saturdays from 9am to 12.30pm. You can also use the minicom number 0845 609 6677. Calls cost 4p per minute from a BT landline and more from a mobile. If you would prefer Civil Legal Advice to call you back, you can text legalaid and your name to 80010. Or alternatively you can visit the CLA's call me back page on the Ministry of Justice website: http://callmeback.justice.gov.uk/ They will call you back within 24 hours.

Claiming criminal legal aid in Scotland and Northern Ireland 

 To speak to someone about legal aid in Scotland you can call 0845 122 8686, or visit the Scottish Legal Aid Board website.

For information about legal aid in Northern Ireland, visit the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission website. 

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