I’m Innocent, Do I Need a Solicitor at the Police Station?
You should always exercise your right to seek advice from a solicitor when you have been asked to attend the police station for questioning.
Why do I need a solicitor?
1. The police will record anything that you may say both in interview and outside of the interview room. This can be used in evidence in Court against you.
2. The police station interview is the start of any case. What is said in the police station goes a long way in deciding the outcome of your case. It is imperative that your case is therefore meticulously managed from the outset.
3. You cannot undo mishaps that have occurred in the police station or retract statements. These will form part of the Prosecution’s case against you, should your case go to Court. Having a solicitor present will ensure that any direct communication that you have with officers is controlled.
4. Police Station interviews are governed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) codes of practice. There are 8 codes which regulate police powers and protects your rights. Your solicitor will be well appraised of these rules to ensure the officers are conducting the procedure at the station correctly according to PACE. PACE includes rules surrounding treatment whilst in custody.
5. To fully assist the police in their investigations, you need to understand what is happening. Your solicitor will be able to explain the process to you, your rights and how best to proceed in interview.
Police Station Interview Process
1. A police interview involves 4 stages:
i. Information about the allegations are provided to your solicitor by the officers. You will not be present for this. There is no duty for the officers to provide all this information to your solicitor. In most cases, officers will meticulously withhold information, to then later ambush you with in interview.
ii. Your solicitor will probe the officers for as much information as possible, this will include asking various questions, asking for further clarification and ask they make further enquiries.
iii. In the instance that you did not opt to have a solicitor, the officers may provide you with a brief interview disclosure document however, it is unlikely that they will afford you the opportunity to ask questions, seek clarification or make further enquiries. Any direct contact with you regarding disclosure will be limited. Officers will usually proceed straight to questioning without providing you any information. This is very dangerous as you cannot possibly provide a full account without having been provided with disclosure. This could result in you incriminating yourself.
b. Consultation with solicitor
i. After the solicitor the has consulted with the officer, you will be given the opportunity to have a private consultation with your solicitor.
ii. Your solicitor will provide you with the disclosure, the case against you and the law.
iii. Your solicitor will then take instructions from you to understand your position.
iv. Your solicitor will advise you on the best way to proceed in interview based on the disclosure provided by the officers and your position. This is the most crucial stage of your attendance at the police station. The correct advice must be given as it will be used as evidence. Your solicitor will present to you three options:
1. Answer no comment to all the questions put to you
2. Answer all the questions put to you
3. Answer no comment to all the questions put to you but provided a prepared written statement setting out your position. Your solicitor will assist you in drafting this statement.
i. The interview will be recorded. Your solicitor will be present throughout.
ii. The officer must set out any warnings and cautions at the outset of your interview. Your solicitor will ensure that these are correct.
iii. The interview will commence. You will be able to stop the interview at any time to consult with your solicitor. Your solicitor will also be able to stop the interview to consult with you.
iv. The officers may use various tactics to elicit information from you. Your solicitor will be able to interject during your interview if he/she feels like the officers are using ill tactics.
v. The officers may introduce new evidence that you are not aware off. Your solicitor will interject here.
i. Your solicitor will be advised at the conclusion of your interview what action the police will be taking. These will include:
1. You have been charged and are due to appear at Court
2. You have been bailed to attend the station at a later date
3. You have been released pending further investigation
4. No further action will be taken against you and the matter has concluded
1. Do not be concerned that the officers will think that you are guilty if you opt to speak to a solicitor. You are simply exercising your rights. If you were to get ill, you would seek the advice of a Doctor.
2. Once you have elected to speak with a solicitor and exercise your right to legal advice, the police will not be able to ask you any questions until you’ve obtained the advice. There are some exceptions to this.
3. If you refuse the right to speak with a solicitor but later decide that you wish to, express this to the officers. You are allowed to change your mind.
Commonly used phrases from police officers:
1. ‘It will only be a quick chat.’ – There is no such thing as a quick chat. This will be used as a tactic to get you to attend the police station. If the matter is likely to not end up in Court, the police have other disposal methods such as; cautions. It is important that a solicitor is present to inform you of the implications that any of these disposal methods are likely to have on your records. For example, cautions may need to be revealed to future employers.
2. ‘I’m neutral in this, I just want to hear your side of the story.’ – Investigating officers are trained to use such tactics to help you feel relaxed and cooperate fully. This can often result in you incriminating yourself in the process. It is very important that any communication you have with the officers is in the presence of a solicitor to reduce any ill-tactics used by officers. All officers will respond differently in the presence of a solicitor.
3. ‘We can interview you right away if you don’t need a solicitor. Having a solicitor will delay matters.’ – Every solicitor has a response time and will be able to attend within reasonable notice. Most firms also operate a 24-hour rota to ensure availability out of hours. Waiting for your solicitor to arrive is not likely to hugely delay your interview. This will also give you time to prepare your thoughts. It is very unlikely that you will be held in custody due to the delay of your solicitor.
Remember, the police officer will want you interviewed right away because he/she will not be able to leave for the day until your interview is concluded.
If you have been contacted by the Police to attend an interview, please contact us to find out how we can assist you.