Someone who makes misleading statements about their finances to get legal aid could face a €4,000 fine or six months in prison.
That's according to new recommendations by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, who will publish proposed changes to legal aid today.
According to the the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Bill 2023, someone who makes misleading statements about their finances could face a €4,000 fine or six months in prison.
People will need to provide a written statement and evidence of financial circumstances to receive criminal legal aid.
Ms McEntee said the Bill will the courts more power to assess the eligibility of those requesting aid.
“For the very first time a judge can make a decision that a person should pay or should contribute towards their own legal costs,” she said. "That is currently not the case."
“It is an important step in making sure that people are held accountable but also that we have right structures and governance in place, where people that have financial means can contribute towards the overall cost of their own legal aid.”
Over €80 million was spent in legal aid fees by the State last year.
Main image: Splitscreen of Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and an Irish court room.