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Charged to Attend Court

If you have been charged to attend a Criminal Court please read about the Court and Funding options.

Magistrates Court Youth Court Crown Court Traffic Court

There are 5 options for funding for your case:

  1. Legal aid
  2. Court duty solicitor on day
  3. Private funding
  4. Insurance cover
  5. Represent yourself

Details as to each option can be found below:

1) Legal aid 

Application for Legal Aid 

To apply for legal aid in the criminal court, you must complete the CRM14 eForm. Depending on the type of case and where the case is being heard, you may have to provide information in relation to:

  • Income 
  • Outgoings (family circumstances, essential living costs)
  • Capital and equity

Depending on the type of case and where it is being heard, you may need to pass a merits (interests of justice) test and a means (financial) test to be eligible. If eligible, the means test will also determine how much you may have to pay to contribute towards your legal aid if this case is sent to the Crown Court.


Applicants under 18 automatically pass the interests of justice test, as do applicants applying in relation to cases committed, sent or transferred to the Crown Court for trial, voluntary bills of indictment, retrials, committals for sentence. 

Generally, offences for which you will not receive a custodial sentence will not pass the interests of justice test. 


If in receipt of passported benefits

If you are under 18 or in receipt of a passported benefits, then you will automatically be entitled to legal aid. You are in receipt of a passported benefit if you receive any one of the below:

  • Income support 
  • Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • Universal Credit
  • State Pension Guarantee Credit
  • Income based Employment and Support Allowance 

In order for your application to be processed by the Legal Aid Agency, you will need to provide us with your National Insurance number so that your benefits status can be checked by the Legal Aid Agency. 

If in receipt of income or work:

The Legal Aid Agency will require details of your gross annual income and your family circumstances. Gross annual income is weighted to account for the number and ages of family members. The resulting value is known as ‘adjusted annual income.’

The means test for gross income (before tax and NI deductions) includes income from:

  • Employment and/or self-employment
  • Relatives and friends
  • Pension
  • Property (including rent from lodgers)
  • Student loan payments 
  • Interest from savings
  • Maintenance received from former partners

You will also need to provide details of any benefits that are not listed above as passported benefits (or included in the Criminal Legal Aid Manual as disregarded benefits), for example:

  • Child benefit 
  • Tax credits 
  • Incapacity benefit
  • Disablement benefit
  • Savings Pension Credit
  • Contribution based JSA

If you have a partner, their income will be included as the Legal Aid Agency assess household income.

How the results work depending on case type:

Full means test

The full means test works out your ‘disposable income.’ The Legal Aid Agency calculate disposable income by deducting living costs from your gross annual income. 
The adjusted income from the initial means test is not valid for the full means test. 
Your living costs include:

  • Tax and National Insurance 
  • Annual housing costs 
  • Annual childcare costs
  • Annual maintenance to former partners and any children
  • An adjusted annual living allowance

Calculate adjusted living allowance

For a single person, the allowance is 5676. This covers an average person’s essential spending on items like food, clothing, fuel. The allowance will be weighted to take account of the size of an applicant’s family. The resulting value is known as the ‘adjusted living allowance'.

*Above tables taken from the LAA website

Complex means

Some applicants may have complex financial circumstances. For example, you are:

  • Self employed
  • In a business partnership 
  • A company director 
  • In the armed forces
  • Subject to a restraint or freezing order 

These applications are still means tested. You will be required to complete both a CRM14 and a CRM15 form.

Copies of these forms can be downloaded via the following link:

For details on how complex means are assessed, please refer to the Criminal Legal Aid Manual. 

Making contributions in the Crown Court

If your matter is in the Crown Court, there are two types of contribution you may have to make:

  • Income 
  • Capital 

You may have to pay all, some, or none of your defence costs, depending on what the means test decides you can afford from your income and capital assets. 

For Crown Court trials, those who fail the means assessment as their annual household disposable income is above the £3,398 threshold (but below the £37,500 eligibility threshold) will be asked to make a contribution from their income. 

Income contributions are set at 90% of disposable income and will be for a maximum of 6 months. 

If you have a higher disposable income than your likely case costs, contributions will be limited to a maximum income contribution to reduce the risk of overpayment. 

At the end of the case, if a defendant is found not guilty, they are entitled to receive all their money back with interest at a rate of 2%.

For Appeals to Crown Court, if you fail the means assessment, and then abandon, or are unsuccessful in, your appeal you will have to pay towards the cost of the appeal as follows:

  • £500 for an appeal against conviction abandoned or dismissed
  • £250 for an appeal against conviction dismissed but sentence is reduced
  • £250 for an appeal against sentence or order abandoned or dismissed

Where payment is required, you will be contacted by the Legal Aid Agency after the outcome of the appeal.

Enforcement action 

If you fail to make payments after you have received contribution orders, you will face enforcement action. Please see the GOV.UK website for more details regarding this. 

Exceptional circumstances: hardship and eligibility reviews

  • Magistrates’ Court hardship application 

If you fail the means test, you can apply for a review on the grounds of hardship. The Legal Aid Agency will consider any expenditure which they have not previously considered. The Legal Aid Agency will assess whether additional expenditure takes your disposable income below £3,398.

They will also deduct the likely costs estimate (where provided). 

  • Crown Court eligibility review

Where you have been assessed as having a disposable income of £37,500 or more, you can apply for an eligibility review. The Legal Aid Agency will consider any expenditure that they have not yet considered. 

  • Crown Court hardship application 

If you have been granted a Crown Court representation order but have been asked to make monthly contributions from your income, you may want additional expenditure to be considered. You will need to make a Crown Court hardship application. A revised contribution order will be issued if your disposable income is reduced. If it is £3,398 or less, the contribution order will be revoked. 

You can seek a hardship review at the same time as your initial legal aid application or after the application is submitted. You must complete a CRM16 hardship application form. 

CRM16 forms can be downloaded via the following link:

See guidance further below for eligibility and forms

Legal Aid Transfers

If you have signed legal aid forms and have applied for or been granted legal aid, then you cannot transfer legal aid routinely. 

A transfer application must be submitted to the Court and will be considered by the Judge. Only the Court can order the transfer of legal aid. 

It is very complicated to transfer, and we do not accept transfers unless the case is very serious and complicated with thousands of pages of evidence.

See link explaining this below

Legal aid transfer forms can be downloaded from the GOV.UK website. Part A of the application form must be filled in by you and then sent to your intended new firm of solicitors for completion.

2) The court duty solicitor 

The court duty solicitor can assist you providing legal aid has not already been applied for or refused on the merits of the case. Duty solicitors may be very busy and you may not wish to rely on this service. 

Please search online for various views about duty solicitors at court. They can only assist on one date.

3) Private funding 

If you are seeking an enhanced service for the best chance of obtaining a successful outcome, contact us to get in touch with our Senior Partners Umar Zeb/Lisa Nicol or James James O’donnell.

Please see our website page concerning private work

We can offer a first meeting from £500 plus VAT – terms and costs to be agreed.

4) Insurance cover

If you have home or work insurance, then you may have some legal expenses cover. Please check this.

5) Represent yourself

This is unadvisable but you may be left in this situation. Please obtain as much information on the law and defences online.

Next steps:

Please advise on the following in one response, if applicable –

  • Your telephone number. 

Police Station details:

  • The police station handling your matter.
  • The next date you are due to attend.
  • The purpose of this attendance.  
  • The bail conditions you are subject to.
  • If you have been released from the Police Station, please advise when. 
  • If you were represented at the Police Station, please advise by whom. 

Court details if you have been charged with a court date:

  • The name of the court hearing your matter.
  • The next date you are due to attend.
  • The purpose of your next attendance (i.e. Bail application; Plea; Trial; Sentence; Other).
  • Has legal aid been granted to you?
  • Are you seeking a private service? If so, how will you fund this?
  • The name of your current solicitors.

You may want to transfer from your current solicitors if this is the case please provide your reasons as to why you wish to transfer from your current solicitors?

Kind Regards 

J D Spicer Zeb

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