If your case goes to the Crown Court for trial you will be eligible for a Representation Order if you have an annual disposable income of less than £37,500.00. Once you have completed an application form, you will then be means tested based upon the information contained in that form. After you have been means tested, you may have to pay towards the cost of your defence to the LAA. This could be from your income while the case is ongoing and/or from your capital, if you are convicted.
You will be asked to provide evidence of your income and assets. If you do not, your payments could be increased which would result in you paying more towards your defence costs. As before, if you do not tell the truth on your application form about your income, assets or expenditure you could be prosecuted.
You will not have to pay towards the costs of your case if you are under 18 when you make your application or if you receive the same benefits detailed above.
You may have to pay towards the costs if your disposable income is above £12,475 per year or £239.90 per week. If this is the case, you will receive a Contribution Order from the LAA and you will have to make payments as required under that Order. The first payment will be due within 28 days of your case being Sent for trial to the Crown Court.
You must again tell the LAA of any changes to your financial circumstances during your case because a change may affect the amount you have to pay towards your defence costs. If you do not think you can afford to pay, or you think a mistake has been made, you can ask for a review of the amount the LAA has told you to pay by again making a Hardship Application which we can help you with.
At the end of your case, if you are found Not Guilty then any payments you have made will be refunded with interest. If you paid late or not at all and action was taken against you, the costs of that action will be deducted from the refund.
If you are found Guilty, you may have to pay towards your defence costs from any capital assets you may have. This would only apply if:
You will be told at the end of your case if you have to make a payment from capital and defence costs will include the Litigator costs, Advocate costs and any disbursements incurred.
As with private fee cases the costs of your case will be higher should your case proceed to Trial. Furthermore, if you have sufficient capital to do so the Legal Aid Agency will seek to recover those costs from your capital assets.
Please be aware however that if your case proceeds to the Crown Court purely for sentence, or because you wish to Appeal a conviction or sentence found or imposed at the Magistrates’ Court, you will only be entitled to Legal Aid representation by this firm in the Crown Court if you are entitled to Legal Aid in the Magistrates’ Court. A Solicitor-Advocate or Barrister can however seek a Representation Order to represent you in Crown Court Breach Proceedings.
In addition, if you Appeal against a Magistrates’ Court conviction or sentence and lose having had the benefit of Legal Aid, you will have to pay a defence costs order of either £500 or £250 in addition to any prosecution costs order.
If you have an annual disposable income of £37,500.00 or more you will not be financially eligible for a Representation Order and you will need to pay privately. You will however still need to complete an application for Legal Aid and have that application rejected before you can recover any private costs in the Crown Court.
For expert advice on this service please get in touch with us.