At a police station in Glasgow
If you are going to be interviewed by the police under caution or you have been arrested then you are always entitled to free legal advice and representation. There is certain circumstances where you are interviewed about a minor offence where this right will be limited to advice over the phone.
Police station and court
There are a lot of cases where the police will release you from the police station to make further enquiries before a decision is made on whether or not to proceed with a case against you. When this happens you will be placed on a pre-charge unconditional bail whilst the enquiries take place.
During this time the work that may be required won’t be covered by the police station advice and assistance scheme, however, legal aid may fund your legal advice and assistance.
For you to be able to get legal aid there has to be an application made to the court. One of the solicitors at our firm in Glasgow can help you with this.
For you to be able to get legal aid for the magistrates court the application will be subject to two tests, the first being called the “interests of justice”. This is where they will determine whether or not your case is serious enough for you to need full legal representation.
There are a number of different instances where you may not pass the first test for example driving document offences, minor public order act offences and being drunk and disorderly. Typically it’s judged on whether or not you are charged with a non-imprisonable offence or not. If you are charged with an indictable only offence which is an offence that can only be heard in the crown court then your case will always satisfy the first test.
The second test comes down to your income, meaning that you won’t be granted legal aid if you are earning too much money. If you are receiving income based jobseekers allowance, income support or a guaranteed pensions then you will be entitled financially to legal aid.
If your case goes to the crown court for trial then you will automatically qualify for legal aid representation once you have completed an application form. After you have been tested you may have to pay towards the cost of your defence, this could be from your income whilst the case is on-going and/or from your capital if you are convicted.
You will be asked to provide evidence of your income and your assets and if you don’t then your payments could be increased – resulting in you paying more towards your defence costs.
You have to pay towards the costs if your monthly disposible income is above a certain level. If this is the case then you will receive a contribution order from the court and you’ll be expected to make the payments that are required under this order.
If there are any changes to your financial circumstances during your case then you must tell the court about it as a change may affect the amount that you have to pay towards your defence costs. If you don’t think that you can afford to pay or you think that a mistake has been made then you can ask for a review of the amount that the court has told you to pay.
At the end of the case – if you are found not guilty then any payments that you have made will be refunded to you with interest. If you have paid late or not at all and action was taken against you then the cost of this action will be deducted from the refund.
If you are found guilty then you may have to pay towards your defence costs from any capital assets you have, however, this only would apply if you have £30,000 or more assets or the payments that you have already made haven’t covered the entire cost of defence. Typically at the end of the court case you will be told if you have to make a payment from capital.
At our firm in Glasgow we have been representing clients in criminal cases for several years now. With a wealth of experience in dealing with the legal aid board, we are in the best position to give you advice on whether or not you would be eligible for legal aid. Our solicitors can also put in an application on your behalf and represent you for your case should you be charged with a criminal offence.
To speak to one of our solicitors simply fill out our contact form and we’ll get back to you.