10 reasons why you need a solicitor if you're going to be interviewed by the police
11 September 2017
Whether you ask for the Duty Solicitor because you have been arrested without prior warning or whether you arrange for a solicitor of your choosing to attend the police station with you by appointment...
...always always always ask for the assistance of a solicitor before being interviewed by the police
The Duty Solicitor scheme is entirely free of charge. If you don't know who to ask for - this is your best option.
If you have carried out some research in advance or you have been referred to a particular lawyer or firm - you may request the services of that lawyer or that firm. Any firm of solicitors with a Legal Aid Contract will be able to provide a legal representative to assist you, without charge.
Alternatively, a more experienced solicitor may agree a fee with you in advance of an attendance at the police station by appointment. You should always know how much the attendance will cost you in advance. We at Old Bailey Solicitors will always provide you with a fixed fee which will apply no-matter how lengthy the attendance lasts.
If you have already been interviewed....
.... and now you are on bail or you have been released "pending further police investigation", now is the time to consult with a solicitor. There may be some proactive steps that an experienced lawyer can take on your behalf while the police continue with their enquiries. Or, the police may wish to interview you again at a later date. It is advisable to be prepared, to know the range of likely outcomes and to know what your rights are.
Here are 10 reasons why you should always ask for a solicitor before being interviewed by the police
1. We are entirely independent of the police
Although we have a legal aid contract with the government, we are entirely independent of the police and the courts. You are our client, and the advice and assistance that we give will be to help you.
Our advice is intended to allow you to make the best decisions in your case. Further, our advice and your instructions are entirely confidential and will remain so unless you choose to disclose the advice you received to benefit your case.
This confidentiality extends throughout you case and after your case has been concluded.
This client relationship is established whether you request a duty solicitor or your own solicitor. All firms who have representatives on the duty solicitor scheme will also deal with their own clients either under the legal aid scheme or privately. You will not notice any difference in how your case is dealt with.
2. We don’t mind being woken up
Well, not really.
It is part of a criminal legal aid solicitors job to answer the phone in the middle of the night to give advice, and attend the police station when required.
3. It is your right to have us present to advise you
You have the right to legal advice so it must be important. Make sure you exercise that right.
4. We are experts in the field of criminal law
It is perhaps unlikely that you will have a knowledge of police practices, court procedure, rules of evidence and criminal charges. Criminal solicitors do. A person wouldn’t be shy about consulting a dentist, plumber or accountant depending on need.
Why be shy about instructing a free solicitor in the middle of the night?
5. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong we can help you
Choosing to have a solicitor doesn’t make you look guilty to the police. Choosing not to have a solicitor might make you a push over in terms of how the police deal with your case.
Why would you choose to go into the alien environment of a police custody suite or interview without the benefit of a trained expert in the field of criminal law?
If you haven’t done anything wrong, you might still struggle to explain yourself in the pressure of a police interview. Our presence and advice will help with that pressure.
6. It is never a ‘quick chat’, despite what the police tell you
The only reason you are being interviewed is because the police suspect your involvement in a criminal offence. Any ‘quick chat’ is to investigate that. The outcome of the chat might be a police caution, or a charge for a serious offence, with serious consequences for your future.
7. We won’t delay your release
The time that you are detained in the police station is entirely down to the police. During normal office hours, firms will have a number of solicitors and accredited representatives who are available to attend the police station at short notice to provide you with free advice and assistance.
Out of hours each firm will operate an on-call rota system to ensure the availability of swift advice and representation when needed.
We know that you will want to be released from the police station as soon as possible, and wouldn’t wish to delay that process. The police, on the other hand, often pass an investigation from officer to officer due to changing shifts or due to how they wish to organise themselves. It is likely to be this, and any investigation they are carrying out, that will cause delay.
8. If you are charged, what happened in the police station is likely to be very important to your case
If your case comes before the court then your police interview is likely to be important, particularly if you are having a trial. It is likely to help you if you have given thoughtful and considered responses to police questioning having had an opportunity to discuss the evidence first.
It might be that you have chosen not to answer police questions. This could be because the police have insufficient evidence when you are interviewed. If the evidence is then forthcoming, your solicitor could attend court to tell a jury about the account you gave in private consultation where this is the same as the defence you give in court.
9. We will give you time to think
In nearly all cases the police will tell us some information about your case in advance. This may include the names of any witnesses and what they say happened. It can include forensic or telephone evidence. We may have the opportunity of viewing CCTV evidence.
Your legal representative will then have an opportunity to speak with you about the information disclosed and take your instructions. You will receive advice about what the evidence shows and whether you ought to give your account to the police.
It is only when you and your solicitor are happy that you are in a position to be interviewed will the interview take place. Should you need to discuss any aspect of your case during interview then you will be able to request that the interview be stopped for a further consultation.
Your solicitor might notice a point of evidence that you need to provide instructions on. In that case, they can request that the interview be stopped.
Without a solicitor, the police will not provide you with the evidence in advance and you will have to make your decision whether, and how, to answer questions during the interview. In those circumstances, it might be difficult to give your best account.
10. We can negotiate with the police on your behalf
A solicitor will be important in negotiations for many reasons. For example, it might be argued that there is insufficient evidence to charge you with an offence. Alternatively, where the police are thinking of charging a serious offence we will have the opportunity to suggest less serious offences. The police may want to keep you for court to seek a remand into prison custody. We can suggest bail conditions on your behalf at the police station. Alternatives to charge might be appropriate such as a police caution or a restorative justice measure. Again, we will argue for this on your behalf.
We are experts and we are on your side.
Make sure you call us, day or night
Old Bailey Solicitors' 24 hour contact number (local rate call) 0330 1000 347
With thanks to Andrew Wesley of VHS Fletchers Solicitors for his original article on the same theme.