We are receiving increasing numbers of applications for pro bono assistance in criminal law Magistrates Court matters due to cuts to Legal Aid.
Lucy*, a vulnerable single mother with no criminal record was facing serious charges, which could have resulted in a significant fine or imprisonment. She was unable to obtain legal aid for a not guilty plea because in Western Australia legal aid has been cut for most criminal matters in the Magistrates Court.
A community legal centre referred Lucy to Law Access for pro bono assistance. Law Access acted urgently to find her a pro bono criminal lawyer. With the hearing only two days away, the pro bono lawyer contacted Lucy.
Prior to the hearing the pro bono lawyer made representations on her behalf which resulted in all charges against her being dropped. This was a fantastic outcome for Lucy who could not have represented herself and who suffers from multiple health conditions including anxiety and depression.
Lucy was relieved to know the charges had been dropped and that she could continue to care for her child who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
*Name has been changed to preserve confidentiality.