Guidelines 1.4 and 1.5 – social security prosecutions

Guidelines 1.4 and 1.5 – social security prosecutions

1.4 – not guilty pleas

Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) may make a grant of legal assistance for a summary criminal social security prosecution for a plea of not guilty if the applicant has a reasonable prospect of acquittal and either:

  • a conviction will have a significant detrimental effect on the person’s livelihood or employment (current or prospective)
  • the likely penalty upon conviction is:
    • imprisonment
    • detention
    • a community correction order requiring more than 200 hours of unpaid community work
    • a community correction order where the person will have difficulty communicating their rehabilitative needs because of a psychiatric or intellectual disability, lack of education or difficulties in understanding English.

1.5 – guilty pleas

A grant of legal assistance may be made for a social security prosecution for a plea of guilty if any of the following apply:

  • a conviction will have a significant detrimental effect on the applicant’s livelihood or employment (current or prospective)
  • it is not appropriate for the matter to be dealt with by a duty lawyer due to complexity or any other aggravating circumstance
  • the likely penalty upon conviction is:
    • imprisonment
    • detention
    • a community correction order requiring more than 200 hours of unpaid community work
    • a community correction order where the person will have difficulty communicating their rehabilitative needs because of a psychiatric or intellectual disability, lack of education or difficulties in understanding English.

Documentary requirements

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

Simplified grants assessment process

Lawyers seeking a grant of legal assistance via the simplified grants assessment process should submit an application via ATLAS, only after ensuring that the following documents are retained on file unless they are requested by VLA for assessment:

  • a reference to guideline 1.4 or 1.5, as relevant
  • copies of the charge or charges
  • full details of the person's prior convictions (if any)
  • the lawyer’s brief assessment of:
    • the likely penalty having regard to any prior relevant convictions
    • the effect of a conviction on the applicant’s livelihood or employment
    • for applications under guideline 1.4, the strengths and weaknesses of the defence or defences
    • for applications under 1.5, the reasons why the matter cannot be dealt with by a duty lawyer
  • relevant proof of means (if a waiver does not apply).

Lawyers are also encouraged to complete a summary crime worksheet and a proof of means worksheet for their file.