The criminal defence lawyers at Forbes undertake all types of criminal law work from motoring offences to murder trials.

More about Crime

Our large team of highly committed criminal lawyers operate on a national basis and are often instructed on high profile cases. This includes our serious business crime lawyers as well as the other specialists within our criminal law firm. We pride ourselves on ensuring you have access to the best criminal lawyers for your specific circumstances.We operate a 24 hour on call rota 365 days a year so if you are arrested at any point of the day or night someone is always available to assist you from our criminal law solicitors' team.

Our clients choose us for our understanding and sympathetic approach. We are proactive and determined to offer you the best chance of success. Our experts can deal with your case from arrest at the police station through the court system and offer a professional and comprehensive criminal defence service.

Something special is required for serious and complex crime cases. The Solicitors in our Special Case Work Unit approach each case in the most determined and focused manner. We have substantial legal resources within our team of serious crime solicitors, and the latest technology available to us for the analysis, preparation and presentation of serious crime cases. The application of this tried and tested serious crime lawyers team-based system has produced impressive results.

Forbes Solicitors is approved by the Legal Aid Agency to conduct Very High Cost Cases and our complex crime solicitors have experience of a very wide range of serious and complex cases and Business Crime.

Instructions are received directly to the unit in Preston or through any of the Crime Departments other offices to offer the best local criminal lawyers to our clients. Whether you're looking for criminal law solicitors in Manchester, the North West of England, Birmingham, London or elsewhere in the country, our team can help.

Crime FAQs

How much does a criminal lawyer cost in the UK?

Forbes Solicitors crime team acts for private individuals and corporate clients. There are different methods of funding your case depending on the type of case and your financial circumstances:

  • Legal Aid Depending upon the nature and the circumstances of your case, Legal Aid by way of a Representation Order in the Magistrates Court and Crown Court may be available to you. In the Magistrates Court this is means tested and relies upon you not only satisfying certain financial criteria but also showing that the circumstances of the case itself warrants the award of legal aid. At the Crown Court you may have to pay a contribution towards your Legal Aid depending upon your means. At the Police Station our attendance is paid for under the Legal Aid scheme, irrespective of your income. Work outside of the police station prior to charge when we have not represented you at the Station is not covered. Legal aid will not be available for most regulatory or disciplinary matters.

  • Insurance Your costs may be covered by a legal indemnity on your insurance policy. If you are a member of a union or professional society you will probably have some form of insurance to cover your costs. Many motor insurance, public liability, life, and home insurance policies now offer Legal Protection or Legal Expenses Insurance as standard. If you are unsure as to whether a policy would cover you please speak to one of our advisors. We work with many insurance companies and can study your policy and make contact with them on your behalf. Some insurers will often want to refer you to their "panel solicitors". Even if we are not on their particular panel often because of our experience and accreditations we are able to act for you under their own terms and conditions.

  • Private funding If you do not qualify of Legal Aid or have insurance cover then we can offer you a range of private funding options to suit your needs. We can offer both an hourly rate service as well as a fixed fee options for the services offered by our expert criminal solicitors. Much will depend upon the nature and complexity of your case and the specific solicitor that you would like to represent you. Generally, the cost of a guilty plea hearing at the Magistrates Court dealt with on the first occasion will be a minimum of £300 but this could rise to approximately £1000 depending upon the factors referred to above. In very complex matters, the fees could exceed £1500. A not guilty plea which proceeds to a full trial in the Magistrates Court is unlikely to be less than £750, and depending upon the amount of preparatory work required and the length of the trial, this may exceed £2500 exclusive of VAT. You will never be liable for any fees unless and until you have expressly agreed to pay us privately.

What is the role of the solicitor in the police station?

Our solicitors will protect and advance your legal rights. Everyone is entitled to free advice and representation at the Police Station.

We will attend at the station, find out what evidence the police have and advise you on how to best to deal with your interview. We will also remain with you in interview to advise you and ensure that the process is conducted lawfully. We can also make representations on bail if you are charged. What happens at the Police Station can often be critical in deciding a case. Good advice, early on can make all the difference.

Forbes operate an emergency call out scheme 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year to provide representation at the station. Whether you have been arrested or asked to attend on a voluntary basis it is always in you interests to have good legal representation. Ask for Forbes or call 01772 220022.

How do I know which court will deal with my case?

All cases begin at the Magistrates Court. There are three different types of offence.

  • Summary offences are criminal offences that can only be dealt with by the Magistrates Courts, for example; Driving with Excess Alcohol, Common Assault, Criminal Damage and many Motoring offences. These are the least serious offences.

  • Offences triable either way are ones that can be dealt with by either the Magistrates Court or Crown Court. Offences such as Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, Theft or Possessing Controlled Drugs are examples of such matters. In these cases the Magistrates may agree to deal with you or direct that you be dealt with at the Crown Court if they feel that the case is too serious or complex. If the Magistrates are prepared to deal with the case, then you have the choice of whether the case is decided by Magistrates or a District Judge at the Magistrates Court or by a jury at the Crown Court. This is an extremely important decision to make. Our solicitors can advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of having your trial in each venue.

  • Indictable only cases are cases that can only tried "on indictment" at the Crown Court before a judge and jury. Offences such as any Conspiracy, Robbery, Manslaughter or Murder are indictable only.

How long will the case take?

At the Magistrates Court, cases dealt with by a guilty plea will be either, dealt with on the day or adjourned for a short period for the preparation of a Pre-Sentence Report. Trials take a little longer. A trial date in the Magistrates Court is usually between 8 and 12 weeks. Cases before the Crown Court usually come to trial within 6 to 12 months.

What happens if I am convicted?

We will advise on the merits of the conviction and where appropriate prepare and conduct appeals against conviction whether it be from the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court, or from the Crown Court to the Court of Appeal. The Court will normally proceed to sentence you but we can make an application for bail pending the appeal if appropriate. We can also apply to suspend any driving disqualification pending the outcome of the appeal.

What is your success rate?

We are one of the largest and most successful criminal defence teams in the Country. Our lawyers for criminal cases consistently achieve excellent outcomes for clients. It is not possible to provide a success rate in terms of a percentage or odds as every case and every client is different.

Will I qualify for Legal Aid?

Police investigations

All police station work (which includes all police investigations regardless of where the interview takes place) is paid for under the Legal Aid scheme, irrespective of your income. Work outside of the police station prior to charge is not generally covered.

Magistrates' Court

The decision to award Legal Aid is made on the basis of both the details of your case (called the Interests of Justice Test) and the financial information you provide (called the Means Test).

If you are under 18 or on certain benefits you do not need to pay for the work we do for you in the Magistrates' Court. These benefits are Income Support, Income-Based Job Seeker's Allowance, Universal Credit, Guaranteed State Pension Credit and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance. You need to provide your National Insurance Number so that the benefit can be checked.

In all other circumstances your finances will be assessed to decide whether you are eligible for Legal Aid. Your annual household income and family circumstances will be taken into account and then:

  • If your annual household income is £12,475 or less you get free Legal Aid

    • If it is £22,325 or more you are not eligible for Legal Aid.

  • If your annual household income is more than £12,475 but less than £22,325 then the Legal Aid Agency will look at your disposable income. This is the money you're left with after you've paid your main bills. A standard amount is allowed for some bills such as gas, electricity and insurance, and there is an allowance for a partner and/or any children.

    • If you're left with:- £3,398 or less a year (£283.17 or less a month) you get free Legal Aid

  • More than £3,398 a year (£283.17 a month) you are not eligible to receive Legal Aid

Crown Court

If your case is heard in the Crown Court your financial situation will be assessed with one of the following outcomes:

  • You don't have to pay for the work that we do for you because you have been awarded Legal Aid to cover all your costs

  • You have to pay a contribution towards our costs because you can afford to pay from your income, capital or both

You have to pay privately for all the work that we do for you.

You will not have to pay towards the costs of your case if you are under 18 when you make your application or if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support

  • Income-Based Job Seeker's Allowance

  • Universal Credit

  • Guaranteed State Pension Credit

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

If your annual household disposable income is £37,500 or more (the money you're left with after you've paid your main bills, and taking into account your family circumstances, such as a partner and/or any children) then you will not be eligible for Legal Aid.

You will have to pay a contribution towards the costs if your annual disposable income is above £3,398.

A standard amount is allowed for some bills such as gas, electricity and insurance, and there is an allowance for a partner and/or any children. Where you are required to pay towards your legal costs, you will receive a Contribution Order from the court giving details of how much you must pay, and how to make the payments.

The contributions are to be paid for the first 6 months of your case (income contributions) and at the end of your case if convicted (capital contributions). The first payment will be due within 28 days of your case being allocated or sent for trial.

I am paying privately, should I opt for a fixed fee or hourly rate package?

We understand that every case and every client is different. We offer a range of packages to suit your individual needs. Whether you choose a fixed fee or hourly rate package you can be sure to receive the very best service at competitive rates.

Fixed fees

Our packages start at £300 for a guilty plea and £750 for a trial at the Magistrates Court. We understand that some of our clients would prefer to know the whole costs from the outset. By opting for a fixed fee you can be confident that the price you have been quoted is the price you pay. Our solicitors at the outset will assess your case, take your instructions and let you know what the fee would be.

Hourly rates

By opting for an hourly rate package you can be sure that you only pay for the service you receive. We can offer you a premier service where the sky really is the limit. You can choose the expert solicitor you want and specify that you only ever deal with the same individual. Often our high net worth clients will opt for this service. Our hourly rates start at £174 per hour for a solicitor and £198 per hour for a senior solicitor.

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Our dedicated Crime team


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Partner, Crime

Craig Liversidge


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Partner, Crime

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© 2024 Forbes Solicitors is the trading name of Forbes Solicitors LLP Offices in Preston, Manchester, Salford, Blackburn, Blackpool, London and Leeds UK Main Office: Rutherford House, 4 Wellington Street (St Johns), Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 8DD • Vat No: 174 394 344 Forbes Solicitors is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA No. 816356). Details of the SRA’s Standards and Regulations can be found here. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.