Do I need a solicitor for a police interview?
Attending a police interview or being arrested can be extremely daunting. You may be in an unfamiliar environment and don’t know the law or what to do. We would always advise someone to have a criminal solicitor present with them for a police interview.
If you or a family member is due to attend a police interview, call David Gray solicitors on 07764929487. We are available for immediate advice 24 hours a day.
Whether you are at the police station as a volunteer or under arrest, you have the right to FREE and independent legal advice. But what does this mean? Should you ask for a solicitor even if you think the case is straightforward, you haven’t done anything wrong or the police say your case might take longer if you have to wait for a solicitor to attend?
It is important to remember that the purpose of a police interview is to gather evidence about an offence. The police may say ‘come in for a chat’ rather than arresting you. They might say this is your chance to put forward your ‘side of the story’ but in reality, the purpose of a police interview is to gather evidence about a crime. What happens at the police station can be very important if your case goes to court as this forms part of the evidence the court will be considering and trials can be won and lost on evidence obtained at the police station.
Although at the police station you have a right to silence and you cannot be forced to answer questions, any answer that you do give, or the fact that you do not answer questions, can be used as evidence against you. The court is allowed to draw an ‘inference’ about what happens in the police interview. For example, a failure to answer questions could be interpreted by the court as a reason why they might be less likely to believe the version of events that you tell the court later on. On the other hand, if you do not answer the police’s questions then sometimes this may mean there is not enough evidence for your case to go to court and no further action is taken against you. An incorrect decision about whether to answer the police’s questions can have a huge impact on your case.
Clients frequently tell us that police say that it will take a long time for your solicitor to arrive but part of the rules about solicitors attending the police station includes that we must be able to reach the police station within 45 minutes of being contacted. At David Gray solicitors, we are available at very short notice to attend for you. If there is any delay in interview, it is normally caused by the police.
So what will your solicitor actually do for you? A solicitor’s job is to act in the best interests of their client at all times, and at the police station this includes:
- Obtaining information from the police about the case (called ‘disclosure’) before the interview, so that you know what to expect and what you will be questioned about. The police do not usually provide this information to people who do not have a solicitor.
- Based on that disclosure, giving advice in a private and confidential consultation about the strength of the evidence against you, whether a criminal offence has been committed and whether it will be best for your case to answer the police’s questions or to remain silent.
- Being present during the police interview and intervening or stopping the interview if the interview is not being conducted properly by the police.
- Advising you about other evidence issues such as whether you should agree to provide medical samples to the police or attending an identification procedure
- Monitoring your welfare at the police station including whether you are well enough to be interviewed.
- For cases where the client has additional needs, such as learning difficulties, making sure that the police arrange for another adult to attend to help you understand the police interview if this is needed (called an ‘appropriate adult’)
- Making representations to the police about issues such as whether you should be released on bail and whether any bail conditions are necessary.
- Making sure that the police are complying with the Codes of Practice which set out the rules about how the police must look after you when you are in police custody.
- Acting for you free of charge, as legal aid is available for representation at the police station regardless of your income or any assets that you have.
All David Gray legal advisors who represent clients at the police station are experts and accredited by the Law Society. Top ranked criminal law team at David Gray Solicitors. For more information contact the team by email to Jayne.firstname.lastname@example.org, phone on 0191 232 9547 or chat live at www.davidgray.co.uk