If your case goes to the Crown Court for trial, you will automatically qualify for legally aided representation once you have fully completed the application forms and provided any necessary information.
Your financial situation will be assessed with one of the following outcomes:
- You do not have to pay for the work that we do for you because you have been granted Legal Aid to cover all of your costs.
- You have to pay a contribution towards our costs because you can afford to pay from your income, capital or both. You will have to pay a contribution towards your defence costs if your annual disposable income is above £3,398. The assessment takes in to account an allowance for your partner, children, housing costs and council tax and a standard amount is allowed for some bills such as gas or electricity. Any debts are not taken into account in this assessment.
Where you are required to pay towards your legal costs you will receive a Contribution Order from the Court giving details of how much to pay and how to make the payments. The first payment will be due within 28 days of your case being, sent or transferred for Trial in the Crown Court. The payments will be collected by a private company called Rossendales on behalf of the Legal Aid Agency and they will also write to you. Any contributions to your Legal Representation Order you have to make or is enforced by the Legal Aid Agency and the non-payment of a contribution is not something in our control. If you do not think you can afford to pay privately, or you think a mistake has been made you can ask for a review of the Legal Aid assessment to be made or a Hardship application can be made.
If you pay your contribution late or do not pay it at all the Court have the power to imposes sanctions such as the Legal Aid Agency charging interest, recouping the money owed by debt collectors and placing charging orders on any property you own. If any of the above occurs, you will be sent a letter from the Court or Rossendale’s and it is between you and the Court to resolve the issue. We have no involvement in the imposition of these sanctions and therefore the Court, Legal Aid Agency or debt collectors must be contacted by you.
You must tell the Legal Aid Agency about any changes to your financial circumstances during your case because a change may affect the amount you have to pay towards your defence costs.
- You have to pay privately for all the work that we do for you. If your annual household disposable income is £37,500 or more, you will not be eligible for Legal Aid in the Crown Court.
You will not have to pay towards the costs of your case in the Crown Court if you are under 18 when you make your application or if you receive any of the following benefits: income support, income based jobseeker’s allowance, guaranteed state pension credit or income-related employment and support allowance.
At the end of your case in the Crown Court, if you are found not guilty, any contribution payments you have made will be refunded with interest. If you paid late or not at all and action was taken against you, the costs of this action will be deducted from the refund.
If you are found guilty, you may have to pay towards your defence costs from any capital assets you may have. This applies only if:
- you have £30,000 or more of assets, for example; savings, equity in property, shares or Premium Bonds; AND
- Any payments you have already made have not covered your total defence costs.
You will be told at the end of your case if you have to make a payment from capital. The Legal Aid Agency will notify you of the amount you owe once your legal costs have been finalised and details as to how to make payment. Rossendales is responsible for the collection and enforcement of Crown Court Legal Aid contributions.
Defence Costs in the Crown Court
Providing you have been granted a Legal Representation Order, the Legal Aid Agency pay us fixed fees in the Crown Court. That fee is dependent on the type of offence and its seriousness, your plea of guilty or not guilty and if you change your plea to guilty or whether a trial is conducted in the Crown Court. In addition, the number of pages of prosecution evidence are also taken into account when the fee is calculated. If we instruct a Higher Court Advocate or Barrister, they receive a separate fixed fee for representing you. As the fees vary and especially in relation to trials are case specific, should you wish to know what we are likely to be paid by the Legal Aid Agency in relation to your Crown Court case, please contact us.
If your Legal Representation Order is revoked, we would be unable to continue acting for you under the terms of the Legal Representation Order. We would contact you immediately to discuss the other options that would be available to fund your representation. We may in these circumstances have to account to you privately for our costs in representing you as long as this had been agreed between us and out in writing. Please note that it is in very rare circumstances that a Legal Representation Order is revoked.
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