If the police have contacted you to ask you to attend a voluntary interview under caution, the first thing you need to do is speak to one of the criminal defence solicitors at Purcell Parker for expert advice on how to proceed. Although you are not formally under arrest during a voluntary interview, what you say during the process can have implications as to whether any criminal proceedings are brought against you and what these might involve.
Be under no illusions – a voluntary interview is not just an informal conversation. What’s more, the onus is firmly on you to make sure you speak to a specialist solicitor as soon as you are made aware that the police want to speak to you.
Free legal advice for a voluntary interview
Anyone who has been asked to attend a voluntary interview under caution is entitled to free legal advice (legal aid) at the interview. The expert criminal defence solicitors at Purcell Parker can represent and advise you if you find yourself in this stressful situation. Again, although you are not under arrest at any point during a voluntary interview under caution, it is essential to speak to your solicitor before the interview and have them present to represent you during the interview itself. As one of the top law firms in Birmingham city centre, we can represent you both in the city and across the West Midlands including in Wolverhampton, Coventry and Worcester.
What is a voluntary interview under caution?
Requests to attend voluntary interviews under caution are issued by the police when they want to speak to you in connection with a criminal allegation but either do not think it is necessary to arrest you at that time, or do not have sufficient evidence to do so. Voluntary interviews can take place at a police station, your home or even the workplace. The police should inform you about the nature of the offence being investigated and the purpose of the interview. They should also make you aware that although you are under caution, you are free to end the interview whenever you like. As well as formally cautioning you at the start of the interview, the police will record it.
How can my solicitor help?
Even if the police give the impression that the process is just an informal chat, the services of an experienced criminal defence solicitor are essential. Crucially, you can ask the police to disclose information about the allegations and investigation in question, but that information can only be provided to your lawyer. Once in possession of this information, your solicitor can prepare you for the upcoming interview. At Purcell Parker, we understand that even if you are not formally under arrest, the prospect of being interviewed by the police in connection with a crime is a daunting one, particularly if it is your first experience of this situation. With that in mind, we can take the time to meet you to go through the information provided in preparation for the interview.
Why do the police opt for voluntary interviews?
When faced with a voluntary interview, many people ask the question, ‘why am I not under arrest?’ Since 2014 there has been a sizeable culture shift towards voluntary interviews in favour of interviews under arrest for reasons including the following:
- Although the police have received a complaint that they believe you are implicated in, they don’t currently have enough evidence to arrest you.
- Cuts to budgets and resources mean that where possible, police use voluntary interviews to avoid the more expensive option of arrest and detention.
- Not making an arrest avoids the legal issues involved in placing someone under arrest, including lengthy bail periods while police wait for the information they need in order to make a decision on whether to charge you.
Do I have to attend my voluntary interview?
By definition, you have no legal obligation to attend a voluntary interview. However, if you are invited to attend a voluntary interview and decide not to do so, it’s possible that the police will arrest you as the next step if they believe they have grounds to do so. This may also happen if you exercise your right to leave part way through the interview. As with all aspects of voluntary interviews, it’s vital to speak to a solicitor before you make any decisions.
What are the benefits of a voluntary interview?
Every case is unique, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, we would advise that attending a voluntary interview will be in your best interests. Not only are you not under arrest, you will not have any forensic samples taken from you. However the main benefit of agreeing to be interviewed voluntarily is that you gain far more control over the situation. Preparing for the interview with your solicitor in advance is a far more attractive option than being caught off guard when you have been arrested unexpectedly. After all, answering questions you have prepared for at a pre-arranged time and place will increase your chances of a favourable outcome.
What will happen after my voluntary interview under caution?
The police may decide against pursuing any action against you or they may keep you waiting while they continue their enquiries. If they decide to pursue a case against you, they will report you for summons in relation to the offence and you will receive a Postal Requisition to attend a hearing at the Magistrates’ Court.
At Purcell Parker, we can continue to support you through any criminal proceedings that may follow your voluntary interview, using legal aid if you and your case are eligible. If you need to pay for your legal representation we may be able to provide you with a fixed-fee quote based on our competitive rates.
Reliable solicitors for voluntary interviews under caution
If you’ve been asked to attend a voluntary interview under caution, don’t hesitate to contact Purcell Parker on 0121 236 9781.