Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may make a grant of legal assistance to a person charged with a criminal offence under Victorian or Commonwealth law which will be heard and determined by a Victorian court if:
- the matter is a criminal law matter within the criminal law guidelines
- VLA considers the person cannot afford the full cost of private legal services (the means test).
If the matter, the proceedings and the person meet these threshold requirements, then VLA will make a grant of legal assistance for:
- a criminal offence to be heard in the Magistrates’ Court and for an appeal from the Magistrates’ Court to the County Court – if VLA considers it is reasonable to make a grant of legal assistance, after having taken into account all relevant matters (the State reasonableness test)
- an indictable criminal offence – if it is desirable in the interests of justice to grant assistance (the State interests of justice test)
- an appeal – if there are reasonable grounds for the appeal.
If the matter comes within the criminal law guidelines and meets the state reasonableness test, then VLA will make a grant of legal assistance to:
- a child (that is, a person under 18 years old) appearing in a proceeding in the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court
- a person who is under a supervision order under Part 5 of the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act , for a proceeding under that Act about the supervision order.
VLA does not apply the means test to these two categories of people, or to any spouse or de facto partner of a child who is seeking a grant of legal assistance for proceedings in the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court.
Criminal law guidelines
The criminal law guidelines set out the conditions under which a grant of legal assistance may be made for the following types of matters:
- summary criminal offences
- indictable criminal offences
- bail applications in the Magistrates’ Court, the County Court and in the Supreme Court
- criminal appeals
- stay applications under the Criminal Procedure Act
- hearings under the Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Act
- breach proceedings in the Magistrates' Court, the County Court and in the Supreme Court
- proceedings pursuant to the Serious Offenders Act .
Reviewed 18 February 2022