Legal Aid Lawyers
Victoria Legal Aid is a government-funded service that provides funding to lawyers to represent clients that cannot afford to pay for a criminal lawyer themselves.
Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers represent clients both privately and, in some circumstances, on Legal Aid funding. We have criminal law offices at Frankston, Dandenong, Geelong, Ballarat, Ringwood, Moorabbin and the Melbourne CBD.
Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers are on the following Legal Aid panels:
This means that Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers are authorised to take on Legal Aid work in the Children’s Court, the Magistrates’ Court, the County Court, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
Legal Aid in the County Court and Supreme Court
Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers have represented clients on Legal Aid funding in relation to murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, assault, sex offences, criminal damage, bail applications, drug offences, firearms offences, Centrelink fraud and white collar crime. As certified panel 1 members of legal aid, we are entitled to assist clients with the most serious offending in Victoria. Not all lawyers are permitted to conduct this work on behalf of legal aid.
Unfortunately, many people do not qualify for Legal Aid funding.
The guidelines for who meets the test to obtain Legal Aid funding has become tougher in recent times. There are different tests that apply to the various court hearings.
Obtaining legal aid in the Magistrates’ Court (non-indictable matters)
When someone is applying for Legal Aid in the Magistrates’ Court, there is a two-step test. The first part of the test is whether the case meets the “merits test”.
The merits test, in relation to a plea of guilty, is as follows. The lawyer with conduct of the matter must be satisfied that “a conviction is likely to result in a term of immediate imprisonment”. If the lawyer is not satisfied in relation to this, then the lawyer cannot submit a Legal Aid grant application on behalf of the client.
The merits test, in relation to a plea of not guilty, is as follows. The lawyer with conduct of the matter must be satisfied that “the person has a reasonable prospect of acquittal on the most serious charge or charges and that a conviction is likely to result in a term of imprisonment”.
Again if the lawyer is not satisfied in respect of the above test, then the lawyer cannot recommend a grant for a plea of not guilty on behalf of the client.
The second part of the test is the “means test”. The means test is far more complicated and further information in relation to when is the means test satisfied can be seen here on Legal Aid’s website.
Children’s Court Representation
In the Children’s Court, there is no “means test” and the merits test is far easier to satisfy, so Legal Aid funding is often far more accessible in this jurisdiction.
In relation the County and Supreme Courts, different tests apply, and you should contact Dribbin & Brown directly for more information.
If you have a court case coming up and would like to enquire whether you might be eligible for Legal Aid funding, then feel free to call our office to set up a time to speak to a lawyer to assess your case.