Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 45

Legal Aid - Legal aid in the U.S., Legal aid in Scotland, Legal aid in Australia

criminal help means person

A statutary scheme in the UK which provides for the payment out of public funds of legal costs to those with limited financial means for advice; assistance and mediation in family matters from solicitors and, if necessary, barristers or advocates; and the costs of litigation including appeals, with representation at civil and criminal trials and at certain tribunals. Civil legal aid is administered by the relevant Legal Aid Board; help is means tested, and a contribution may be required depending on the person's disposable income. There must also be a reasonable chance of success. A person seeking criminal legal aid applies to the court, and this may grant such aid if the person's financial circumstances require it and if, in certain cases, it is in the interests of justice to do so by making a Legal Aid Order. In serious offences, Legal Aid is granted by the relevant Legal Aid Board. Once criminal legal aid is granted, no contribution from the applicant is required. In the USA, there is a constitutional right in criminal cases to be represented by a lawyer appointed by the court, often called the public defender, where someone has insufficient means to pay privately. This right extends to all cases where the possible sentence is a jail term and also to juvenile delinquency proceedings. The Legal Services Corporation provides financial assistance for legal help in non-criminal proceedings for those unable to afford such help. Similar schemes exist in many other countries.

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