Legal Aid

Legal aid is a political hot potato, with various factions such as the Law Society ( or at least part of it) and the Ministry of Justice engaged in a war of words. It is WAY beyond the skills of this site to give anybody any advice as to how this will finally be resolved and the only person who will know the actual situation at the time you need help will be a lawyer; so go and get some REAL advice if you have problems!

Legal aid can help you pay for legal advice, family mediation and representation in court and some tribunals. This could include help for housing, debt, family or education problems. You can also get legal aid if you’re accused of a crime. You can’t use legal aid for most work problems, unless you’ve been discriminated against. The prison service issued some guidance notes to serving prisoners which sets out what the regulations are regarding them Legal Aid for Serving Prisoners

You could get help with costs of legal advice or getting someone to speak or negotiate for you. In some cases, you could get a solicitor or barrister to represent you in court and some tribunals. You can also get help if you’re accused of a crime, eg advice at a police station or someone to represent you in court.You may have to pay some money towards the legal costs of your case.

You might be able to get legal aid for problems like:

  • being arrested, questioned or charged by the police
  • debt, eg if you might lose your home
  • housing, eg if you’re being evicted
  • family issues, eg mediation if you’re getting a divorce
  • education, eg if you disagree with a special educational needs decision about your child
  • community care, eg if you’re unhappy with care being provided for an old or disabled relative

A solicitor or barrister will get your case ready and speak in your defence in court. To get legal aid, you usually need to show you can’t afford to pay for legal costs and your problem is serious.A police custody officer will help you get legal aid if you’ve been arrested and held at a police station. A solicitor will check if you qualify for legal aid if you’re charged with a crime or have to go to court. You’ll get legal aid automatically if you’re under 16 (or under 18 and in full-time education) or on certain benefits.

If you can’t get legal aid, ( and you should be able to) all is not lost . You can get free advice from:

A police custody officer will help you get legal aid if you’ve been arrested and held at a police station. A solicitor will then check if you qualify for legal aid if you’re charged with a crime or have to go to court.

It is important that only those who are financially eligible receive legal aid. So it is essential that the information you provide about your circumstances is complete and accurate. You must also tell your lawyer about any changes in your circumstances, where appropriate. If they find that you have made a false statement or have held back information about either your case or your circumstances, they may stop any legal aid given to you and you may have to repay the full costs of the case. You could also face criminal charges. Most lawyers will check with the Department for Work and Pensions, councils, employers and any other relevant third party, that the information applicants give to them  is accurate.

REMEMBER: this is a very technical area so go and speak with an expert!

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