In criminal proceedings, you may be entitled to legal aid to cover the costs of your representation. We hold a contract with the Legal Aid Agency for the delivery of legally aided criminal defence work. We must make clear that legal aid is not necessarily “free” and not everyone is entitled to be granted legal aid. Legal aid is subject to passing an “interests of justice test” (i.e. is the case “serious” enough to justify the grant of public funds towards your defence?) and a “means test”.
In the Magistrates Court you either qualify for legal aid on means or you do not. Generally speaking people in receipt of state benefits or on a very low annual income will qualify automatically. If you earn over the upper threshold in the region of £23,500 per annum you will not qualify. In between and you will be subject to a full means test. Please note that not all of your household and living expenses will be allowed in determining your eligibility.
In the Crown Court generally all applicants for legal aid are entitled unless your annual disposable household income exceeds £37,000 (approx). However if your disposable income is less than this or your capital exceeds £30,000 you may be required to make a contribution towards the cost of your case.
Further information can be found here.