Legal aid is provided to persons who from varied reasons cannot pay for such services. It is the case of offenders or victims involved in different crimes and who need immediate legal advice they cannot afford. The eligibility for legal aid plays a major role in such cases, however, persons have the right to solicit legal aid. In UK, the Legal Aid Agency is the institution in charge of verifying the crime cases in order to see if persons who breached the law can obtain legal aid.

Domestic abuse – do I receive legal aid?

Cases of domestic violence are treated very seriously by the authorities in UK and victims of abuse can solicit legal advice and support even if they cannot afford it. Legal aid can be provided in cases of sexual violence, physical assault, bullying, forced marriage and also victims involved should seek immediate legal advice.

The eligibility for legal aid

According to the UK legislation, the eligibility for legal aid is established by the Legal Aid Agency once a verification is made. The following aspects explain how legal aid eligibility is established:

1.    Minors under 18 years of age involved in less serious offences and having problematic families can receive legal aid;

2.    Women who are victims of abuse and violence and in the position of losing their house can solicit and receive legal aid;

3.    Unemployed persons involved in crimes can ask and obtain legal aid if the particularities of their cases are accepted by the court;

4.    Legal aid is not provided in business crime offences in UK.

Victims of abuse are advised to talk to the police and report the case as soon as possible, taking into consideration that they can have all the support of a defence solicitor working pro bono. The eligibility for legal aid depends on the case if information about the financial status is provided, if the victim has a job or not, if there are minors involved and if the victim cannot afford to pay for legal advice and representation. On the other hand, persons accused of crimes and kept in police custody can ask for legal aid, however, the authorities will have to establish the eligibility in the first place.  In terms of documents, the authorities are entitled to ask for divorce documents, information about the national insurance, bank statements, marriage and birth certificates.

If you are a person who cannot afford legal assistance and have insufficient financial means to pay for the services of a criminal lawyer, you have the right to solicit legal aid from duty lawyers, legal agencies and to be represented in the court of law.

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