When am I entitled to free legal advice?

The Legal Aid Scheme determines whether you may or may not be entitled to free legal advice.  On 1st April 2013 significant changes to the Legal Aid scheme were introduced, it is therefore important to know when legal aid may or may not be available.

Crime

If you are interviewed under caution by the Police you will always be entitled to free legal advice.  If you are interviewed by someone other than the police, such as by the DWP or Local Authority, you may be entitled to free advice, depending on your means.

Should your matter be taken to the Magistrates Court you may be entitled to free legal advice, if you are eligible.  Eligibility depends on whether you have the means to fund your own representation and whether it is in the ‘interests of justice’ for you to be represented.

If you must attend the Crown Court you will always receive free legal representation, but you may be required to pay a monthly contribution, depending on how much you earn.

Child Care

Where social services have raised child protection concerns over your children, you may be eligible for free legal advice, provided you are able to show you do not have the means to pay for this advice.

If the Local Authority have informed you they are considering issuing child care proceedings at court because they are so concerned about the risk of harm to your children, you will always be eligible for free legal advice from us.  Your financial situation has no bearing on entitlement; you will always obtain legal aid.

If this is taken to court then you, as a parent, will always be entitled to representation at court for free; this is totally covered by legal aid and will last throughout the court proceedings.

Family

If you require an injunction against a family member, you may be eligible for legal aid depending on your means and the merits of your case.  If you are eligible for legal aid then advice may be free, or you may have to make a contribution to it.

If your child is at risk of abuse from somebody involved with your family and you require legal advice on residence, or contact with your child, you may be eligible for free legal advice and representation at court to make those applications.  This is subject to conditions being satisfied; such as a relevant police conviction, or a letter from a health professional or social worker.  A full list of conditions can be found here.

If you are suffering from domestic violence and you need legal advice on a family matter involving financial concerns including divorce, or your children including residence and contact, you may be entitled to free legal advice and representation at court.  Again this is subject to the above conditions being satisfied.

The above are all situations which Emery Johnson Solicitors can help you with, whether it is at the level of advice or representation at court.  If in doubt about your entitlement to legal aid we are happy to discuss this with you.  If you do not quality we have a wide range of finance products available ranging from fixed fee to divorce loan funding, details of which can be found here.