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CDS

The Criminal Defence Service which from 2nd April 2001 replaced the old system of criminal legal aid and provides criminal services to people accused of crimes.CLS

The Community Legal Service, bringing together networks of funders (eg Local Authorities) and suppliers into partnerships to provide the widest possible access to information and advice.

Legal Aid

DOBSONS Solicitors - removing obstacles!!

Legal Aid representation in a criminal court is not always dependent on a person's financial circumstances

DOBSONS are happy to answer any queries you may have regarding Legal Aid or paying our fees privately whether by credit card or otherwise.

What is Legal Aid?

Is everyone prosecuted for a criminal offence entitled to Legal Aid?

How do I apply for Legal Aid?

What will Legal Aid pay for?

Will I have to pay anything?

What if I am being investigated, but not yet been prosecuted?

What about advice outside the Police Station?

What if I cannot get Legal Aid?

What is Legal Aid?

The Government is committed to ensuring that all persons have access to justice. This means that where a person being prosecuted for a criminal offence cannot afford to represent themselves at court, the government will pay the costs of instructing lawyers to represent them.

Is everyone prosecuted for a criminal offence entitled to Legal Aid?

If you are prosecuted for a criminal offence you will be given Legal Aid if the court considers that it is in the 'Interests of Justice' for you to receive publicly funded representation and if you pass a means test.

There are many circumstances in which the interests of justice criteria are met. If you are charged with an offence and if convicted you are likely to receive a prison sentence - it is highly likely that you will be granted Legal Aid.

Examples of cases which might justify the grant of Legal Aid, include:-
1. Where a new conviction might allow a court to re-sentence someone for a previous conviction;
2. Where you are of good character and will therefore get a criminal record in the event of conviction;
3. Where you are at risk of losing their livelihood in the event of a conviction;
4. Where a case is contested and professional assistance is required in cross-examining prosecution witnesses;
5. Where you suffer a disability;
6. Where there are complicated issues of law involved;
7. Where investigation needs to be carried out by the defence - such as tracing witnesses and taking statements from them;
The above list is not exhaustive and there may be other circumstances, peculiar to a case, which justify the grant of Legal Aid.

How do I apply for Legal Aid?

Contact DOBSONS - we will discuss with you whether you are likely to qualify for legal aid. We can arrange an appointment for you in our offices, where we will be able to help you complete an application for Legal Aid.

What will Legal Aid pay for?

If Legal Aid is granted, all the necessary expenses of defending your case will be paid for by the Government. This might include, instructing a barrister to represent you in court or instructing an expert such as a forensic scientist or forensic accountant to help prepare and present your defence.

Will I have to pay anything?

If your case stays in the magistrates' court - you will not be liable to pay anything towards the defence of your case.

If your case goes to the Crown Court, then a Judge has the power to order that you pay a contribution to, or all of, your defence costs. Such an order however can usually only be made in the event of a conviction, and the Judge must take into account your financial situation at the time of making the order.

What if I am being investigated, but not yet been prosecuted?

If you are being held under arrest at a police station or you are at a police station as a volunteer "helping police with inquiries" we can give you free legal advice, whilst you are at the police station or anywhere if police are present.

This will normally start by legal advice being given over the telephone, but in the many cases a we will attend to advise you in person and stay with you in any interview with the police, to protect and promote your rights.

If you want us to advise and represent you please contact us 24/7 and we will ensure that one of our solicitors or representatives attends the police station to promote your best interests.

What about advice outside the Police Station?

You MAY be entitled to legal aid for advice outside the police station even though you have not yet been charged or summoned for a criminal offence.

This type of legal aid is dependent on your financial circumstances. Generally if you are in receipt of benefits or are on very low income you will be eligible for this type of Legal Aid.

If you are entitled to this legal aid or if you want to pay us, we can advise you in the office before going to a police station, or whilst you are waiting to go back to a police station having been bailed by the police for further inquiries to be made.

Please don't hesitate to contact DOBSONS to speak to an advisor who will be able to assess whether you are eligible for this type of legal advice.

What if I cannot get Legal Aid?

ASK ABOUT DOBSONS FIXED FEE SCHEME AND DOBSONS CREDIT CARD FACILITY

As we have said above, you are entitled to legal aid:-

- if you are being questioned by police wherever that may be; or
- if you are charged/summoned to court for an offence, the case is serious enough and you cannot afford to pay.

If for any reason you are not entitled to legal aid to pay our fees, we are still able to represent you if you pay us privately. DOBSONS operate a FIXED FEE SCHEME for certain cases, subject to terms, conditions and exclusions. We can also take payment by many major CREDIT CARDS enabling you to spread our costs as may be convenient to you.

Contact DOBSONS and we will advise you on our fees.

 

www.dobsons.org.uk