This will depend on the nature of the offence for which you are appearing and your financial means. Legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court is means tested and subject to what is known as the ‘Interests of Justice Test’. The interests of Justice test looks at how serious the matter is and whether there is a risk that someone will lose their liberty or suffer long term damage to their livelihood or reputation. The means test does not apply if a person is under 18 or on certain benefits.
In all other circumstances a person’s finances will be assessed to decide whether they are eligible for Legal Aid. Their annual household income and family circumstances will be taken into account and then:
- If their annual household income is £12,475 or less they’ll get free Legal Aid
- If it is £22,325 or more they are not eligible for Legal Aid.
- If a person’s annual household income is more than £12,475 but less than £22,325 then the Legal Aid Agency will look at their disposable income. This is the money they’re left with after they’ve paid their main bills. If they’re left with: 3,398 or less a year (£283.17 or less a month) they get free Legal Aid
- More than £3,398 a year (£283.17 a month) they are not eligible to receive Legal Aid