Victoria Legal Aid Handbook for Lawyers

Guideline 1.1 – ‘not guilty’ plea in the Magistrates’ Court

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may make a grant of legal assistance to a person who has been charged with a criminal offence to be heard in the Magistrates’ Court if:

and one or more of the following applies:

Guideline 1.1 – ‘not guilty’ plea in the Magistrates’ Court should be read in conjunction to the Notes to Guideline 1.1 – ‘not guilty’ plea in the Magistrates’ Court.

Documentary requirements

Applications under this guideline are within the simplified grants assessment process.

Lawyers seeking a grant of legal assistance under this guideline should submit an application via ATLASExternal Link , only after ensuring that the following documents are retained on file (unless they are requested by VLA for assessment):

  • a reference to guideline 1.1
  • copies of the charge or charges
  • the basis for the defence or defences
  • full details of the person's prior convictions (if any)
  • details of the evidence they will rely on to support the defence or defences
  • the lawyer’s assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the defence or defences
  • relevant proof of means (if a waiver does not apply).

For the avoidance of doubt, the evidence that an assisted person is willing to give at a contested hearing may be sufficient to demonstrate a reasonable prospect of acquittal.

Lawyers are also encouraged to complete a summary crime worksheet, a proof of means worksheet and a medical/psychologist/psychiatrist report worksheet (where relevant) for their file.

This Guideline is effective from 1 April 2024.

Reviewed 15 April 2024

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