What can I do if I cannot afford the lawyer’s fee in criminal proceedings?
If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer to assist you in criminal proceedings, you may apply for legal aid from the Legal Aid Department, which provides you with a solicitor and, if necessary, a barrister to represent you at court.
The financial eligibility is financial resources not more than HKD420,000, including the disposable income and capital. The preliminary calculation would first deduct monthly rent, rates and living expenses of you and your dependents from your monthly income, and then time the net income by 12; the second step is adding up all of your disposable capital, including cash, bank savings, jewelry, stocks, shares and property, whereas your property for living, furniture, clothing and tools of trades are excluded. If you are over 60 years old, the financial eligibility limit will be HKD 840,000.
If you are remanded in custody, you can apply for legal aid through the Correctional Services Department; if you are not in custody, you make the application in person at Headquarters on the 25th floor of the Queensway Government Offices with financial documents for verification such as bank statements and salary slips. When the application is successful, the Department will provide you with a solicitor and a barrister.
You are required to prepare detailed documents to show your income, expenses and disposable capitals to lower the chances of refusal. You may go to https://laesp2.lad.gov.hk/laesp/portal/entry/entryDeclare.jsp?language=zh&country=HK&
and fill in the online form first, which may assist you in document preparation.
Even your application is accepted, you may still have to pay part of the fee. Your contribution rates vary from 2% to 25%, depending on the number of your financial resources. If your financial resources exceed HKD 420,000 and you cannot manage to pay the lawyer’s fee, you can still apply for legal aid while your contribution rates increase to 30% -67%.