Legal aid is a service available to people who are unable to afford legal representation and it ensures that every individual has the right to counsel and to be subject to a fair trial. A criminal defence solicitor can help you with adequate legal counseling in different types of cases and can represent you during the trial if you choose to benefit from legal aid.
Access to legal aid
One of the key principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is equality before law along with the presumption of innocence. Any individual charged with a criminal offense has the right to defend himself/herself in person or by soliciting legal assistance. The public hearing is to be fair, independent and held by an impartial tribunal. These are the principles, set forth by the United Nations, that guarantee an individual’s right to a free trial and legal aid when needed and as directed in the respective state.
Legal aid laws differ from one jurisdiction to the other and, in practice, they are influenced by economic principles and limitations to a certain number and types of individuals who can access these types of services. In Europe, access to legal aid is guaranteed under the principles for access to justice for all individuals, regardless of financial means. The European Convention on Human Rights makes express specifications on this matter, regarding criminal law cases.
The eligibility criteria for legal aid will usually depend on the type of case and the financial circumstances of the applicant. The legal aid may cover the costs in full or partly, in which case the plaintiff will need to pay some of the costs with money obtained from the settlement or otherwise.
Legal aid offered by a defence solicitor
Civil legal aid can be important for families who cannot afford to pay a professional who will offer legal services, from counseling to court representation. Individuals may find that applying for legal aid can be their only means of solving the civil legal issues they are faced with. These can include:
- assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm, rape or sexual offenses (including those against children);
- theft, robberies and burglaries;
- drug offenses;
- breach of court orders and others.
The criminal defence solicitor can help individuals gather evidence to support the case and prepare a defence strategy that can also include court representation.
Obtaining legal aid is subject to certain conditions in many states, however, its aim is to create equality in case of legal practices and allow individuals to benefit from a fair trial.