Legal expenses provider ARAG  is offering an innovative Family Prosecution Defence policy to protect individuals accused of criminal offences. The new policy guarantees the right and freedom to have a defence in court.
David Haynes, head of underwriting & marketing, said: “The cost of obtaining justice can be extremely high, even for those who are completely innocent. Family Prosecution Defence provides first-class lawyers, protecting innocent family members of someone who is accused of committing a crime against serious financial consequences – such as the need to re-mortgage or sell the family car to fund a proper defence.”
Plugging the defence funding gap caused by a combination of savage cuts to legal aid, changes to the rules on recovering costs at Crown Court trial and cover limitations that generally apply to existing Family Legal Protection products; the new policy extends to areas such as allegations of dishonesty, violence, uninsured driving and alcohol or drug-related offences. All family members, including those studying for further education away from home, are covered.
Mr Haynes continued: “The burden of proof in a criminal trial lies with the prosecutor who is required beyond all reasonable doubt to prove that the accused is guilty of the charge. We’re here to ensure a quality defence is available so there is no miscarriage of justice.
“Where an error of judgement has been made and an individual has been drawn into committing a crime, just as for those who are wrongly accused, individuals still have a legal right to a defence. They have the opportunity to apologise to the court and those affected by their actions. Under these circumstances, when a guilty plea is entered, the court can be lenient when passing sentence, if the judge is convinced of the defendant’s remorse.”
Family Prosecution Defence will typically be available to boost Family Legal Protection policies for high net-worth individuals or for company directors and partners as an extension to commercial products, but the new policy is also suited to affinity groups.
What is covered?
The new policy covers the majority of criminal acts but Class A and Class J offences or repeat offences are excluded. Most importantly, assistance can be sought before an arrest or notice of prosecution is received.
In addition to criminal matters, cover is available to provide representation for individuals facing a regulatory investigation or disciplinary action by a professional body. Confidential telephone counselling and legal advice is also provided as well as access to an online consumer legal service website, for legal advice and documentation.
Policyholders are urged to add the 24/7 helpline number to their mobile contact list to ensure immediate representation is available for police interviews.
“The number of lawyers prepared to take on legal aid cases has reduced as the rate they are paid makes it unattractive to work in that area,” adds Mr Haynes “and the courts have realised a huge surge in the number of litigants representing themselves.
“Our FPD policyholders don’t have to worry about that because they have access to the best people to help them and ARAG will be footing the bill.”