We take clients on a publicly funding basis as well as clients who pay us privately for our criminal defence services. If you are under investigation for, or charged, with a criminal offence, you are highly likely to be entitled to free legal advice and representation. Contact the criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors straightaway for immediate help and let the Government foot the bill.
At the police station
If you are taken into custody in a police station in the UK, you are legally entitled to free legal advice and assistance. You may see a duty solicitor (who may not have the expertise you specifically need); or you can request to speak to the criminal defence solicitors of your choice, such as Qamar Solicitors. If your request is refused, let us know as soon as possible. The police are not permitted to delay your right to speak with your solicitor - unless there are exceptional circumstances.
If you are due to attend the police station for a formal interview with a police officer (or an officer from another prosecuting authority such as HM Customs & Excise), you are also entitled to free legal advice and assistance. If you have an appointment, let us know as soon as possible and we will arrange to be there for you.
After the police station interview
When you are released from the police station but you are asked to return at a future date, your right to free legal advice continues. If you are asked to attend the police station to answer bail and we have not yet been consulted, contact us and we will be pleased to represent you.
If you are charged with an offence, you may be entitled to free legal aid via the Legal Services Commission. Your eligibility depends on a two-stage which takes into account your financial circumstances and the seriousness of the charges against you:
The ‘Justice Test’: this requires that you show you are genuinely in need of legal advice. A number of factors will be taken into account, including whether you are at risk of custody, at risk of losing your livelihood or your reputation is at risk, a substantial question of law is involved or you do not speak English. In practice, however, there needs to be a potential prison sentence in order to satisfy this first stage.
If you do not pass the Justice Test you will not be eligible for legal aid.
Means Test: if you have a joint income with your partner of more than £22,000 you will not be eligible. If you have a joint income of more than around £11,000 you may be entitled to ‘partial’ legal aid.
If you receive Income Support, Jobseekers’ Allowance or Guaranteed State Pension Credit you will be eligible for legal aid.If you receive other benefits or otherwise have a low income you will be assessed by the court’s Means Testing Team.
If your application for legal aid fails, you can apply on the grounds of hardship, although this is rarely successful.
The Crown Court
Legal aid is usually available for a defendant who qualifies under the Means Test if the case reaches the Crown Court. Where he or she has an above average income (or has assets), the defendant may have to make a contribution to legal aid – which can be substantial. We may therefore advise clients they are better off paying privately. We will advise you on your specific circumstances as to what is in your best interests.
If you are not entitled to free legal representation (or you decide to pay privately because you are likely to have to pay a contribution towards your legal aid) we are available to advise and defend you on a cost efficient basis.
If you do pay for all your defence costs but you are acquitted (or the case is dismissed) you can apply to reclaim some or all of their defence costs from central funds. Contact us as early as possible so that we can provide an estimate of the likely costs.
How can we help?
If your are under investigation for a criminal defence, contract the criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors as soon as possible for advice and representation, and your potential eligibility for free advice and representation, and legal aid.