CRIMINAL DEFENCE

Our Crime Team deals with all types of cases with a criminal justice element. Since we were awarded a Crime Contract by the Legal Aid Agency in 2017, we have developed a service that focuses on our community who either cannot or decide not to instruct a solicitor. We know the services provided by all our local solicitors and if they cannot help you then we will try to do so.

The current legal aid rules have probably led you to our service. We will almost always be able to help if you automatically qualify for legal aid on means or if your income and assets are such that you can comfortably pay us. This covers almost everyone in our Borough.

We will provide precisely the same expert service whether you pay or not. You will be advised by a highly experienced solicitor or barrister throughout – we have a team of carefully chosen students and volunteers but absolutely everything is ultimately dealt with by a very experienced and specialist solicitor.

We will fight ‘tooth and nail’ to avoid you getting a conviction – you should expect nothing else. If you are convicted, we will work with you to try to avoid it happening again – we know our local probation teams and local agencies. We will work with our other departments to address any problems with your housing, employment or benefits. We will ask for a dedicated community penalty as an alternative to custody, and our local CAB has a presence at our local prison. If you come back a fifth time then we acknowledge that our service is not for you.

Due to the current health crisis, we are working as much as possible by telephone and video-conferencing. The initial consultation is always free. We will attend police stations if you have been arrested (always free) and attend court (free if legal aid is granted).

It you have to appear before a court, we will help you with your application for legal aid and if it is granted you will be represented by an experienced solicitor-advocate or barrister in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court.

We are passionate about access to justice and effective representation and we deal with a diverse range of cases, especially cases that are unusual or novel. Our supervisor Richard Gowthorpe and our solicitor McKenzie Webster are both solicitor advocates with many years’ experience at the ‘front line’ of criminal defence.

If legal aid is not available or is refused, we offer pro bono advice and assistance (ie advice before the hearing) but we cannot guarantee representation at the hearing itself.

We deal with cases from the beginning when the police make an arrest or invite you to a police station for a formal interview, and throughout the court proceedings whether it stays at the Magistrates’ Court or is sent to the Crown Court. We will appeal any unfair conviction or sentence.

We are happy to discuss problems with individuals who are already in prison and need advice. We will almost always refer appeals to a specialist solicitor for no other reason than capacity. Advice on appeals is unlikely to be comprehensive with the Zoom service but you can try us, we will at least give you an idea on your options.

Finding yourself in the criminal justice system is sometimes an indicator of other issues in your life, for example losing your home, your visa status, your job, your benefits or your medication. We will work with you to sort these problems out where we can.

If you do not automatically qualify for legal aid or cannot comfortably pay then you will very likely be referred to a list of our local specialist solicitors unless there is an exceptional reason not to do so. Specialist solicitors may charge more and if you find someone who is cheaper then tell us and we will adjust our fees accordingly. We are here to fill a gap in the market and to compliment the services that solicitors offer, not to compete with them. The fees below are set at ‘rock bottom’ of the market primarily as a guide:

  • Initial consultation is always £40 fixed fee to open a file for a “one-off advice” for £40 fixed fee + £40 per hour after the first hour.
  • Representation at a Police Station (under arrest or voluntary attendance) is free if no other lawyer has yet attended on the same matter, otherwise £250 fixed fee.
  • Magistrates Court appearance – advice & representation: Trials and other contested hearings: £450 fixed fee up to one day; all other hearings: £150 fixed fee.
  • Crown Court appearance – advice & representation: Trials and other contested hearings: £950 fixed fee up to three days; all other hearings: £350 fixed fee.

If a barrister attends court then everything you pay will go to the barrister.

We will never “mix and match” private fees with legal aid.

Please note in those rare cases we do charge, 20% VAT will be added

We used to deal with complainants and victims of crime but we found it blurred the lines, we will now take your call and help as much as we can over the phone, but will then refer you elsewhere.

If any kind of criminal justice issue arises please contact us on 020 8619 9633 or 07494127843 (available between 9am – 5.30pm) or at crime@nklc.org.uk

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