% of All Clients
This table shows the businesses providing Criminal Law and how their customers have rated them.
Criminal law covers everything from relatively small criminal acts such as shoplifting or causing a public nuisance through to major crimes, such as robbery, violent acts on another person, or corporate fraud, and acts such as rape, murder, or terrorism. It can also involve international relations and multiple jurisdictional rules, particularly concerning issues such as extradition, money-laundering, cross-border crimes and terrorism.
In major cases, public agencies like the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) or the Public Defender Service (PDS) are likely to be involved.
Everyone arrested and taken to a police station is entitled to free legal advice, whatever their means. After being charged or issued with a summons, a person’s eligibility for further legal assistance becomes means tested. This will cover the work that a solicitor will need to do to prepare the case and representation at the Magistrates Court and the Crown Court. It must also be established that it is in the interests of justice for a person to be granted legal aid. If a person is found guilty, they may be required to repay their legal costs.
Criminal lawyers typically work on the case from the beginning to the end. This will usually involve: the filing of a case; investigation; visiting police stations and prisons; taking witness statements; going through medical reports; liaising with court personnel, the police department and probation officers; filing pleas and motions before the presiding court; and conducting the eventual trial, if that part is not being performed by a barrister.
Changes to legal aid funded duty solicitors
In February 2014, the government announced plans to cut the number of legal aid funded duty solicitors working in magistrates' courts and police stations. On-call, duty contracts for criminal solicitors to attend police stations and courts will be slashed from 1,600 to 527 in England and Wales, and these plans were confirmed by the Ministry of Justice at the end of 2014.
In March 2015, The Law Society lost a court appeal against government plans to cut the duty solicitor contracts so the changes should go ahead. The Law Society argued that capping the number of duty solicitor contracts will bankrupt many small legal firms, and may jeopardise people's access to a lawyer.
Tenders for the new contracts have been sent out by the Legal Aid Agency and, given the reduction in numbers, the criminal law market is expected to face a period of merger and consolidation as the number of solicitors working in criminal law falls.