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If you are arrested and cannot afford to get a private lawyer, you have the right to ask for free legal assistance from a government solicitor. Moreover, if you are charged with a serious crime, legal aid can help you pay court fees. These are just some of the benefits that the legal aid provision in the UK can help you protect your rights as a citizen and enjoy equal access to justice.
In a nutshell, legal aid is a scheme funded by the government to assist low-income earners who need access to legal representation or legal advice without paying fees. The government will be paying the legal aid providers, which in turn pay their legal aid solicitors who are working for people who need their assistance. This concept ensures equality before the law, the right to get a fair trial, and the right to counsel.
However, the funding and eligibility for legal aid were considerably reduced during the approval of LASPO (Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Act) in 2012. The said Act cut the solicitors’ fees and the legal aid scope such as cases of immigration except for asylum claims, family cases that do not involve domestic violence, and debt, benefits, or housing cases that do not show a direct threat of homelessness.
Legal aid solicitors are lawyers that provide legal advice and assistance for people who need representation in family, immigration, asylum, criminal, housing, extradition, and public law. For the right candidates, working as a legal aid solicitor offers a rewarding career in the context of serving poor and less privileged people.
They are part of the law firms that cater to legal care and services. Legal aid solicitors have their own specialisms and background, which benefitted a diverse range of clients who urgently need professional assistance to face family or civil disputes.
There are various ways that legal aid solicitors can help you. It includes:
If you are held in custody, a police officer can help you seek legal aid from the on-duty solicitor in the police station or get free advice from a legal aid lawyer by phone (applies only to less serious offences). If you are charged with a crime and need to appear in court, a legal aid solicitor can help check if you are eligible for free-of-charge representation. You have three options -- ask assistance from the court duty solicitor, find your own solicitor from reputable law firms, or get advice from the solicitor who helped you during your custody.
When it comes to family issues, it is crucial to work with experienced lawyers who show empathy and guide the aggrieved party with compassion. Whether it is about child custody issues, child arrangement or access issues, family finances, divorce, or domestic violence, a professional family solicitor with a history of successful cases under his sleeve will give you more confidence to fight for your rights.
Having a professional legal aid solicitor on your side will help you understand the complexities of family law and go through difficult circumstances with a hopeful spirit. Lawyers who are adept in this particular law know how to use constructive negotiation to ensure a fair settlement for their clients. An out-of-court settlement is always a better option because it brings quicker resolution of the dispute and helps you avoid the stress of appearing in court.
As for the criminal cases, respondents should find legal aid solicitors who are knowledgeable, cool-headed, and familiar with court proceedings. They know that facing a criminal act is both financially and emotionally taxing for their clients, so they make sure that the rights of their clients are not violated in any form. Legal aid solicitors know that each criminal case is unique so they work to make tailored strategies to show that their clients are innocent. In case they lose, they will work for an appeal or for the most favourable deal for them.
In summary, a legal aid solicitor is your ally when you are accused of a crime, you and your children need protection, you are being discriminated against, you are going to be homeless, you need mediation, and your human rights are violated.
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