Availability of automatic criminal legal aid

Criminal legal aid is automatically available to your client in certain situations. It is available without application and without enquiry as to your client’s resources. Your client just needs to request legal assistance in the following circumstances. Your client should be advised of their right to contact you at the time of their arrest, they also may be entitled to the services of a duty solicitor.

The circumstances in which automatic criminal legal aid is available:

  • Representation at an identification parade
  • Proceedings under solemn procedure where your client appears from custody (Petition proceedings)
  • Proceedings under summary procedure where your client appears from custody (court duty solicitor)
  • Cases involving insanity, including an examination of facts
  • Cases involving sexual offences
  • Cases involving child witnesses under the age of 12, and in other cases involving vulnerable witnesses
  • Certain proceedings under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018
  • Trials in absence (in solemn and summary cases)
  • Cases where on appeal the High Court has granted authority for a new prosecution for the same or a similar offence

The solicitor of choice provisions [section 31 of The Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986] are disapplied to enable representation [section 22(1) (dd) and (de) of the Act].

Automatic criminal legal aid is no different in character from criminal legal aid made available by us and it is subject to the same arrangements covering matters such as sanctions for counsel and expert witnesses.

Automatic criminal legal aid can be terminated by us or the court.

Automatic legal aid for unrepresented persons

In summary proceedings, if the court has adjourned a diet to enable an unrepresented person to apply for legal aid, automatic legal aid is available without making an application or applying any statutory tests until we decide the application [section 24(6), and section 24(7) and (8) of the Act].

This is automatic legal aid under section 22(d) of The Legal Aid (Scotland) Act 1986.

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