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These blogs are written by our legal team and it is hoped you will find them informative. If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised within please do not hesitate to drop the author an email.

Costs against Defendants in Criminal Courts

20/4/20150 CommentsBy Adam Brown

There have been significant changes to Court Fees in Criminal Courts arising out of the Criminal Justice & Courts Act 2015, of which all Defendants and Criminal Lawyers need to be aware.

The actual rates that came into force on the 13th April 2015 apply to any conviction after that date, providing the Defendant was over 18 at the time the offence was committed.

The amounts of these costs have been separately fixed by secondary legislation (The Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (Criminal Courts Charge) Regulations 2015) implemented at the very end of the Parliamentary session, without debate in the House of Commons. They are as follows;

Column 1

Column 2

Conviction by a magistrates’ court in

proceedings conducted in accordance with

section 16A of the Magistrates’ Courts Act

1980 (trial by single justice on the papers)

£150

Conviction by a magistrates’ court for a

summary offence on a guilty plea

£150

Conviction by a magistrates’ court at a trial of a summary offence where

(a) the defendant did not enter a plea,

(b) the trial proceeded in the absence of the defendant, and

(c) the court dealt with the case on the papers without reliance on any oral evidence

£150

Conviction by a magistrates’ court for an

offence triable either-way on a guilty plea

£180

Conviction by a magistrates’ court at a trial of a summary offence

£520

Conviction by a magistrates’ court at a trial of an offence triable either way

£1000

Conviction by the Crown Court on a guilty

plea

£900

Conviction by the Crown Court at a trial on

Indictment

£1200

Magistrates’ court when dealing with a person under section 21B(1)(b), (c) or (d) of the POA 1985

£100

Crown Court when dealing with a person

under section 21B(2)(b) or (c) of the POA

1985

£150

Crown Court dismissing an appeal by a person against conviction or sentence

£150

Court of Appeal dismissing an application for

leave to bring an appeal under Part 1 of the

CAA 1968 against a person’s conviction or

Sentence

£150

Court of Appeal dismissing an appeal under

Part 1 of the CAA 1968 against a person’s

conviction or sentence

£200

I have used the word mandatory, as the Court has no discretion and as such these fees will be incurred regardless of a Defendant's financial position and ability to pay.

Payments plans can be requested and it may be possible to apply to the Court for outstanding payments be waived. Such applications may be pursued between 1 and 2 years after the Costs Order was made - depending on the circumstances - and will depend on whether the person has been convicted of any other offence in that period.

Conversely those who simply refuse to pay face imprisonment for non-payment.

These 'backdoor' charges have caused concern and have been described by the legal profession as being one of the most significant changes ever to be made to the sentencing process.

We have already seen the implementation of strict financial eligibility criteria for Defendants requiring Legal Aid. Many Defendants already face unrealistic and substantial contributions towards their legal aid representation. Others who have been refused legal aid have to fund their defence privately without the prospect of recovering some or all of their costs if found not guilty or the charge is dropped.

Many believe there is a substantial risk some Defendants will admit offences they have not committed as they cannot afford legal representation, or risk incurring the increased costs if found guilty (a real possibility for any defendant especially if unrepresented), or indeed both.

Such a mindset risks undermining the administration of justice if leads to the innocent being convicted and the guilty avoiding prosecution, and is likely to impact upon the majority of people who do no have the financial means to fund a legal defence privately.

Given the cuts to Legal Aid these are particularly difficult times for anyone accused of a criminal offence and any such person is strongly advised to contact us as soon as possible for no obligation advice.

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