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Not Guilty Verdict: Compensation for Legal Fees

Compensation for Legal Fees

So, a criminal case is over and you’re found to be not guilty. What happens now? 

Here is everything you need to know about a not guilty verdict compensation.

Legal basis for compensation in Australia

All Australian states and territories (except the ACT) do not allow wrongfully convicted individuals to claim compensation through common law or statutory rights. However, the court process does award compensation payments either upon request by the defendant following a not-guilty verdict or as an Ex Gratia (charity) payment.


What happens after a person is found not guilty?

What happens after a person is found not guilty?

Once you are found not guilty in a court in Western Australia (eg. the Magistrates Court) the matter in which you went to court will be resolved and finalized. This means you are acquitted of the criminal charges, and in effect, as an accused person your status is reverted as if you were never charged in the first place.

Once your innocence has been established, you will then need to arrange for compensation through the court’s system. It’s best to have a lawyer on board for this.


Can I claim compensation after being found not guilty?

Can I claim compensation after being found not guilty?

The answer is yes, but claiming may not be the right word. A defendant may be awarded legal costs through a Costs Certificate where the accused has been found not guilty in the summary jurisdiction. This order aims to compensate the defendant for costs incurred as a result of the legal proceedings against them. 

So how does that work?

The answer lies in the Official Prosecutions (Defendants’ Costs) Act, 1973.


What are compensation orders?

Compensation orders, as per the Defendants’ Costs Act include any costs that:

  1. are properly incurred by a defendant in an official prosecution; and 
  2. are due and payable, or paid, by the defendant to another person or as Court fees.

Costs are only awarded if the defendant is successful, meaning their charge is dismissed, withdrawn, struck out, or a conviction was thrown out. 


Do you pay court costs if found NOT guilty?

No. If you are acquitted, the courts will give you a costs certificate which can be submitted to the Department of Justice for reimbursement. This is the only way to receive these court costs at the end of a trial. It’s important to speak to your lawyer about the timeline for this payment. 


Do you pay court costs if found guilty?

It depends. The type of court and criminal case will play a role in deciding if the accused will pay costs in the event of being found guilty. Indeed, it is rare for costs to be awarded to the guilty party, but depending on the circumstances there may be exceptions to this. If you are unsure about what legal compensation you may (or may not) receive, it’s best to speak to a qualified legal professional.


How much money can I get back after being found not guilty?

There are strict guidelines for how compensation following a not guilty verdict is handed out. The Legal Profession (Official Prosecutions) (Accused’s Costs) Determination 2018 lays down the maximum costs that can be awarded to a defendant. This scale essentially determines how cost orders are written up by the courts. This allows an equal playing field for all defendants who are found not guilty. 


Can I claim compensation following criminal injury?

Yes. Under Western Australian criminal law, if you have suffered as a direct result of a criminal act or are a close relative of a victim, you are able to make a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003.


Can you sue after being found not guilty?

Can you sue after being found not guilty?

Taking it one step further and suing the police for example is a very serious and complicated matter – and will warrant a thorough investigation by the courts into maltreatment, malicious prosecution, assault, amongst others.

If you have been wrongly accused, you will need to seek legal assistance as soon as possible to ensure your rights are upheld and your freedom ensured.


Get the not guilty verdict compensation: Hire a lawyer today

Get the not guilty verdict compensation: Hire a lawyer today

With strict timelines for accessing compensation following a trial, it is essential you are ahead of the game when it comes to dealing with the courts. The best chance you have at coming away with the right compensation is directly related to the kind of legal assistance you have backing you up. Make sure you get the right not guilty verdict compensation – hire qualified criminal defence lawyers perth at WN Legal today.

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