Legal aid is normally granted if the eligibility criteria are respected and if the Legal Aid Agency considers that it is a case where legal aid must be provided. A criminal defence solicitor can work pro bono and offer legal support and advice under certain conditions, however, it is important to know that offenders have rights, and among these, the access to legal representation.

The eligibility criteria for legal aid - how it is determined

There are many cases involving offenders or victims of violence who, under certain circumstances, need to solicit legal aid. In case of offenders, the legal aid is offered once the eligibility criteria are established. In this sense, offenders accused of crimes and involved in criminal proceedings have the right to ask for legal aid and be represented in the court of law by a solicitor. This is where public lawyers can help if they are part of the Public Defender Service Offices, from the Legal Aid Agency. It is important to know that a criminal can be represented right from the police station if kept into custody, as this is a constitutional right in the UK.

The Legal Aid was established for the first time in 1930 in UK, when Poor Prisoners Defence Act was implemented. This set of laws was then replaced with the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 which is also available today. In cases of legal aid, the financial situation will be verified and then, if certain testing schemes apply at the time, the case is sent to the Magistrates' Court and the legal aid is provided.

Can I benefit from legal aid if I'm a victim of abuse?

Yes, it is clearly stipulated that victims of abuse and violence can receive legal aid. Victims of forced marriage, extortion, blackmail, physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking or coercive control are extremely vulnerable, and in most cases, these are women and children. Such victims might be persons without a home or without finances, and therefore, no legal support. Luckily, the legislation in UK protects the victims of abuse, mentioning that they can receive legal advice free of charges, if the eligibility criteria are verified and in accordance with the requirements imposed.

Are you a victim of abuse and you cannot afford a solicitor in UK? Let us remind you that you have the right to ask for legal aid and receive such services without any costs. A defence solicitor can give in-depth support and legal representation under certain conditions, in compliance with the applicable laws.