Being found not guilty is a big relief. At the end of a long and arduous court case, knowing you are free to go is a life changing event.
But there’s a big problem looming. Guilty or not guilty – going to court costs money.
And what about the court costs you’ve amassed over the course of the trial? All those legal fees, trips to the court and back? For anyone engaged in a criminal matter – the resulting costs aren’t part of anyone’s budget.
So how do you get this money back? Here’s what you need to know about getting your money back after being found not guilty.
Who pays for litigation?
In reality, this depends on the type of legal matter you’re involved in and any other arrangements that may have been made. The assumption that court cases are financed by litigants and defendants isn’t true for many court cases – making it difficult to determine costs in advance.
In broad terms, there are various different parties to litigation, such as:
- Insurance companies
- Legal firms through agreements with clients (speculative fee arrangements)
- Government can provide financial assistance through various statutory and non-statutory schemes
- Legal aid commissions
Legal costs in criminal matters
Essentially you will get compensation after being acquitted of a criminal offence. There are mechanisms in place to ensure those who are wrongfully convicted either by police or the court process are afforded compensation under a strict scheme laid out by the Official Prosecutions (Defendants’ Costs) Act, 1973.
I’ve been found not guilty. What’s next?
Following a formal acquittal where changes against you are lifted, the court handling your case will provide you with a costs certificate. This certificate is essential to accessing compensation following your case. In order to claim the amounts specified by the courts, the defendant must process the costs certificate with the Department of Justice within the given timeframe to get their money back.
The State is bound by law to be paid the full amount stated in the certificate within 2 months after the payment has been claimed. It’s critical to seek assistance from a qualified criminal lawyer to make this process as smooth as possible.
How much can I get back from compensation?
After being lawfully acquitted, the amount of compensation you can receive will depend on the type of case and the kind of outcome delivered by the magistrate.
There are strict guidelines on what legal fees can and cannot be reimbursed following a not guilty verdict. For example, there are maximum hourly and daily rates that apply. It’s important you are aware of what costs you are incurring along the way. However, ultimately, it’s up to the courts to provide a costs certificate that will determine exactly how much you can receive.
Can I sue the police for compensation?
It is possible to take action against the prosecuting authorities in extreme circumstances. It’s also possible to gain compensation if your claim is successful. Most forms of legal action against police will involve proving police misconduct.
However, this can be an extremely complicated and often expensive process. The courts must not only be satisfied, but comfortably satisfied that police misconduct did in fact, take place.
Proving this can often be difficult and will require legal resources and evidence. If you are a victim of police brutality, you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
Contact a criminal lawyer today.
When it comes to legal proceedings, there are many unknowns. But one thing is for sure: it costs money. Not only does it cost money to get the right representation – it also costs money to have your case heard.
Getting the right lawyer on board from the start can not only increase your chances of success but can also ensure a smooth end to the matter. If you’ve been lawfully acquitted, make sure your costs are awarded. Reach out to qualified local Perth criminal lawyers today.