Right to legal aid

Victims can apply for legal aid, which means that the State will pay all or part of the costs of the legal proceedings (mainly depending on the victim’s finances, except for the most serious offences).

This aid is intended to help people who want to claim their rights in court, but who cannot afford a lawyer, a notary, or an expert. It is for instance paid to the lawyers so that they can represent and assist the victim free of charge. The victim will therefore not pay the legal costs.

To apply for legal aid, victims can contact their local legal aid office and fill in an application form. They can also find this form at a victim support association or on the internet. Victims must meet three conditions for receiving legal aid:

  • Not have legal expenses insurance that covers all legal costs;
  • Be a French or European national, or ordinarily resident in France.

     However, the residence condition is not required if the victim is a civil party in the proceedings;

  • Have a reference tax income below a certain threshold.

Legal aid is granted on the basis of reference tax income as well as personal and property assets.
Do not hesitate to consult a lawyer or a victim support association, for example, to determine whether the victim is eligible for legal aid.

The application for legal aid can be made at any time during the procedure and covers only the legal costs.

The aid granted is either partial or total. If legal aid is refused or only partially granted, the victim can appeal. A report should be sent to the competent authority explaining the reasons for the refusal, and the authority will review the file to decide whether or not to grant legal aid.

If the victim is eligible for legal aid, they may select a lawyer of their choice who operates under this scheme, or if they do not know one, they can ask the President of the Bar to appoint a lawyer for them.

I was a victim of a criminal offence: consequences and reactions The rights of victims of a criminal offence Criminal proceedings Who is who in criminal proceedings

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