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LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 818
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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I have been charged with theft from my employer of 7 years,

Customer Question

I have been charged with theft from my employer of 7 years, I have tried to get in touch with solicitors with a view to recieving advice and representation at court, I am currently unemployed and when I ask what the situation is regarding legal aid I am told that they cannot make new applications and I would have to pay.
I am 28 years of age with no criminal record and a good work history, I am not trying to get 'something for nothing' and realise that recent legislation is making it harder for solicitors to obtain legal aid but I would have thought that my circumstances are just those where legal help is needed and indicated.
I do not want to rely on turning up in court and having to rely on a duty solicitor who would have no prior knowledge of myself or my particular circumstances. What would you suggest I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I am a solicitor with 20 years experience. I will try to answer this for you.
It sounds like you have been caught up in the Legal Aid Solicitors (and partly Barristers) industrial action on legal aid cuts.
Virtually all solicitors are refusing to apply for legal aid from 1st July onwards. Those that are wiling to do so are outside the mainstream of the profession and you might wonder whether you would want to be represented by such a person.
If you attend at your first hearing then the duty solicitor will have a duty to represent you and will do so. For a first hearing on a theft case (even a complex theft from employer) almost all duty solicitors will be able to deal with it.
For further hearings in the case, either the action will continue and your case will be caught up in delays or the action will collapse and the lawyers will start applying for legal aid again.
I don't think it is right that (if you qualify for legal aid) you should pay privately to avoid the strike. At the first hearing you should use the duty solicitor and then you will need to wait and see what happens I think.