Legal aid
Last updated: 23 May 2020

Criminal cases

If you've been charged with a criminal offence, legal aid can help with the costs of legal advice from a solicitor or representation at court.

Criminal legal aid is usually granted if:

  • you're likely to go to prison if convicted
  • you're likely to lose your job if convicted
  • you can't follow what's happening in the trial because of a mental or physical disability or English isn't your first language
  • you're being kept in custody until a trial
  • you want to appeal against a decision a criminal court made about you
  • you've been charged with a serious offence on petition under solemn procedure (this means it's likely there will be a trial with a jury)
If your case involves a minor offence such as a motoring offence, it's not likely you'll get help with legal costs.

You'll also have to show that you can't afford to pay your legal costs yourself, or that paying them would be unfair to you or your family.

Your solicitor (or a duty solicitor if you're in custody) can tell you it's likely you'll get help with legal costs, what you need to pay and how to apply.

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