Many clients come to later regret their mistake of being interviewed by the police without having a criminal defence solicitor attending the police station to legally represent them. Here are five myths busted wide open:
#5 – I don’t need a solicitor because I can’t afford one
Myth – If you are being interviewed as a suspect under caution by a police constable you are entitled to free non-means-tested legal representation.
This is the case regardless of whether you are under arrest or being interviewed as a volunteer. It also doesn’t matter if the interview is taking place at the police station, your home or the alleged offence location. Most will have heard the phase “assisting with enquiries” but you need to remember if you are cautioned and told “you do not have to say anything….” You ARE being interviewed as a suspect.
#4. I don’t need a solicitor because I have done nothing wrong and the police with think I have if I get a solicitor
Myth – First, no police officer ever arrested would be interviewed without a solicitor, we know as we have represented many police officers. It’s more likely that they would assume that you are wise and sensible, rather than foolish or guilty.
Also, we often see people make admissions in police interviews without realising it amounts to a criminal offence. Sometimes people fail to disclose facts which might amount to a defence. In both cases, having legal representation from the outset can often have a material effect upon the outcome of the investigation. It should go without saying, if you need advice on the law, you need to consult a lawyer.
#3. I don’t need a solicitor because I am the victim
Myth – If the police are interviewing you as the suspect it is likely they are treating the other party as the victim. This is quite common especially in domestic violence cases, where both parties often claim to be the victim to an incident and both have injuries. It wouldn’t surprise you to hear that often it is the man arrested, even when he called the police.
#2. I don’t need a solicitor because it will delay my release
Myth – Having legal representation will not delay your release and in fact often the reverse is true. When people are arrested and are in custody, they are asked if they would like legal representation. The chosen solicitors (or the duty solicitor) are notified and then they make contact with the police on a regular basis to proactively chase when the police will be ready to interview. We have to be there within a maximum of 45 minutes, in most cases we attend much sooner than this. Having a legal representative providing advice and making representations on your behalf could mean that you actually spend less time in police custody.
#1. I don’t need a solicitor because the police told me I don’t need one
Myth – Whilst a police officer may seem friendly, you must be aware that it is his or her job to gather enough evidence to prosecute for a criminal offence and the purpose of a police interview is to secure evidence by questioning. That means evidence AGAINST YOU. The police officer may be genuinely sympathetic and warm-hearted, but they can not advise or defend you, only your own legal representative can. The role of your lawyer is to solely protect you and your rights by obtaining disclosure of the evidence before you are asked questions, explaining this evidence, the law, and detention and interview process before advising you before, during and after the interview process.
Legal advice whilst being questioned by police is free and is there to protect you. Why would you ever be interviewed by police without a solicitor?