If the police decide they wish to speak to you in connection with a crime that has allegedly been committed, the process entails an interview where you are formally placed under caution using the wording from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
The process of being interviewed under caution depends on whether you have been arrested and are being held in custody in a police station or whether the police have requested that you attend a voluntary interview under caution at a pre-arranged time. At a voluntary interview you are not under arrest.
Whether your interview under caution takes place on a voluntary basis or not, it is vital to make sure that you arrange for an experienced criminal defence solicitor to represent you during this important interview as whatever you say can have important repercussions in the outcome of any resulting investigation against you.
Interview under caution after arrest
If you have been arrested and taken to a police station, you will be dealt with in accordance with an established procedure that takes into account your legal rights whilst in custody. Before your interview under caution, the custody officer will explain your rights, including the right to call a friend or relative to tell them where you are, the right to medical help should the need arise, the right to see written information on codes of practice including food and toilet breaks, the right to an interpreter should you need one and the entitlement to free legal aid advice for your interview under caution.
Before you are interviewed you can expect the police to confiscate your possessions, photograph you and take forensic samples such as fingerprints. If the police want to take blood or urine samples they must get both your permission and that of a senior police officer unless the samples are needed in connection with accusations of drink or drug driving.
Any forensic samples taken from you will be stored in the police database.
Solicitors for interview under caution at the police station
Everyone has a right to free legal advice (legal aid) for an interview under caution when they have been arrested, regardless of their income or the nature of the alleged crime. The police are legally required to provide a duty solicitor at the police station and they are not allowed to question you in connection with an offence until legal representation is in place. However, in order to secure the best possible outcome for your case, it’s crucial to arrange the best possible legal representation for this first interview which is often pivotal in influencing the overall outcome of your case.
As leading legal aid criminal law solicitors in Birmingham, Purcell Parker’s highly experienced team can represent you at the police station 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our location in Birmingham city centre means we can respond to your call at short notice. However, we are also available to visit police stations across the West Midlands, including Coventry, Leamington Spa Stafford, Worcester and Wolverhampton.
Preparing for an interview under caution when you have been arrested
When you have been arrested, there is little time to prepare for your interview under caution. Also, due to the upset and stress caused by the circumstances of your arrest and the arrest itself, your understandably agitated state of mind means that you are unlikely to be in the best frame of mind to answer questions calmly and correctly during your interview under caution. However, it’s incredibly important to approach your interview in as calm a manner as possible.
Purcell Parker’s 24-hour solicitors can reassure you and provide the support necessary in order for you to approach the interview in the best frame of mind possible in the circumstances. Should you have any extra needs or requirements, we can also make sure these are met.
What to say in an interview under caution
Your solicitor will prepare for the interview by getting disclosure from the police about the offence they wish to discuss. When you are formally cautioned, you will be informed that you do not have to say anything but that any information in your defence that you do not mention at the time may be treated with suspicion if you later try and use it in any court proceedings.
We will be at your side throughout the interview and will draw on both our experience and the information you have given us about the circumstances that led to your arrest to advise you on whether you should speak, remain silent or put forward a prepared statement.
Your interview under caution will be recorded by the police.
What happens after your interview?
After they have interviewed you, the police need to decide whether to pursue criminal charges or release you. The longest you can be held in a custody suite before this decision is made is 24 hours unless you have been arrested for a serious crime such as murder. If the police decide you are still under suspicion but there is not enough evidence to charge you, you can be released on bail. Conditional bail is also a possibility if you are charged with a crime and the police wish to impose certain conditions like a curfew on you.
In situations where you are charged, we can take on your criminal defence case. We will discuss all aspects of this with you, including funding your case and whether you will qualify for legal aid.
Alternatively you might be ‘released under investigation’. This means that you are not subject to any conditions and not obliged to return on any particular date while the police continue with their investigation. However, you may still be charged in due course.
Voluntary interview under caution
Due in a large part to a squeeze on resources, it’s increasingly common for the police to request that you attend an interview under caution at a pre-arranged time. This may also happen when the police want to talk to you about a historic offence, when they don’t currently have enough evidence to place you under arrest or when they believe investigations against you may be lengthy and they wish to be free of the legal obligations of placing you under arrest. This lack of set time frames means it’s crucial to have a proactive solicitor on your side who will be able to keep you informed of what is going on.
Voluntary interviews can take place at the police station, at your home or in your place of work. The interview will be recorded.
Your rights during a voluntary interview under caution
During a voluntary interview under caution you are not under arrest which means you are free to leave the interview at any time. However, you should be aware that the process is not less serious because of this. You will be formally cautioned in the same way that you would be if placed under arrest, meaning that the same potential consequences apply if a court later draws ‘adverse inference’ from anything you fail to mention during the interview.
Due to this, it’s vital to have a specialist criminal law solicitor present for your voluntary interview under caution. You are entitled to legal aid for this interview just as you would be if you had been arrested.
As the interview is on a voluntary basis, by definition you are not legally required to attend. However, we would normally advise that you cooperate with the police’s requests, not least because they may react to you declining a request to be interviewed by arresting you if they have grounds to do so.
Advantages of being interviewed on a voluntary basis
Although it is a serious matter to be summoned for a voluntary interview, the obvious advantage is that you will not be held in custody and questioned shortly after the incident in question when you are likely to feel agitated and ill-prepared.
When the police invite you for interview, they will inform you why they want to speak to you. As soon as you receive their request, you should contact an expert criminal defence lawyer to represent you at the interview. An important part of the interview process will involve preparing by asking the police to provide information about the alleged offence.
Your criminal defence solicitor will liaise with the police to arrange a date and time for the interview, confirm why the interview is taking place on a voluntary basis and get written disclosure of the allegations if the police will provide it before you attend for interview. We can then use this information to thoroughly prepare you for the interview. This includes finding out if you have evidence such as alibis, witnesses or documents including texts or emails that should be raised at the interview, and whether it is appropriate to prepare a ‘considered statement’ in advance. We can also act on your behalf if you have any special requirements that need to be taken into account in advance of the interview.
As a result of this, you will be able to approach the interview in a calm and prepared manner offering the best chance of a favourable outcome. This is very important as any errors you make during the course of police questioning cannot be undone.
Another advantage of being interviewed under caution on a voluntary basis is that you will not have any forensic samples taken from you. Also, if the interview results in no further action being taken against you, you can truthfully answer that you have never been arrested for a criminal offence on DBS forms or job applications.
What’s the next step?
In circumstances where it’s appropriate, we will do everything we can to ensure that your voluntary interview is the end of the matter. In situations where this is not possible, either because the police decide to prosecute you for an offence or make you wait while they carry out further enquiries, we will continue to support you and will give you a clear idea of the costs involved, including a competitive fixed-fee quote in some circumstances.
Whatever the outcome of the interview, we will be able to give you a clear idea of where you stand, including making sure the police provide confirmation in circumstances where they decide not to proceed, or keep you updated in situations where you are finding it difficult to find out what is going on with your case.
Expert legal advice for interviews under caution
No matter what the circumstances are, we can provide prompt, expert and empathetic advice if you are being interviewed under caution after an arrest or on a voluntary basis. To find out more, please call us on 0121 236 9781 or fill in our contact form.