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You do not have to wait until you are charged with a criminal offence before getting a solicitor. In fact, you should get a defence solicitor as soon as you become aware that you are suspected of committing a crime.
Under investigation? Contact us now
If you have been linked to a criminal offence, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors now. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days week. Our criminal defence solicitors represent clients across England and Wales. We also offer free police station representation.
When should I speak to a defence solicitor?
The Law Society website states that you should: “contact a solicitor as soon as you become aware that you are being accused of an offence…You should contact a solicitor even before you speak to the police or go to a police station (if possible), so they can tell you what to expect, and explain what your rights are.”
Therefore, you should contact a solicitor as the earliest available opportunity. Ideally, this will be as soon as you become aware that you are a suspected of committing an offence. You might be invited to the police station for an informal interview. The police might search your property. Or you might be arrested.
Whatever the circumstances, our advice is the same: get a criminal defence solicitor as soon as you realise that you are under suspicion.
Can I speak to a solicitor even if I haven’t been arrested?
It does not matter whether or not you have been arrested: you should still speak to a defence solicitor if you are a suspect in a criminal investigation. Lots of people make the mistake of waiting to instruct a legal representative until they have been formally charged. However, you need a solicitor before this.
So, do not wait until you have been arrested to speak to our criminal defence solicitors. If you think the police are investigating you, please contact us now. The earlier you have legal representation, the better.
Why do I need a solicitor?
A criminal defence solicitor is entirely independent from the police. He or she acts in your best interests. This is highly advantageous for you, as this solicitor is an expert in criminal defence law – and they will apply their expertise to help you. A criminal defence solicitor will do things like:
Advise you of your rights – a solicitor can clarify what your legal rights are. This is particularly important with regard to police searches, police questioning, being held in police custody and bail.
Explain to you what to expect – a solicitor can explain what will happen to you over the coming hours, days, weeks, months or even years. This might be your first interaction with the police as a criminal suspect, so you might be unsure as to what happens next. This can be scary, but your solicitor will be on hand to guide you through it.
Defend your position – if you are innocent of the allegations against you, your solicitor can defend your position throughout proceedings. This includes during police interviews. This can be difficult to achieve on your own, as you may inadvertently say something that creates the wrong impression.
Object to misleading questions – during a police interview, you might be asked a misleading question, or the police may try to put words into your mouth. Your solicitor will sit with you during all police interviews and object to such questions and statements. Again, this will help your case in the long-run, ensuring you do not say something that will later be used as evidence against you.
Prepare your defence – if you are formally arrested and charged with a criminal offence, your solicitor can prepare your defence and represent you in court. Those who have a defence lawyer are much more likely to secure a successful outcome than those who represent themselves.
Does getting a solicitor make me look guilty?
Some people decide against instructing a solicitor because they think it makes them look guilty. However, this should not be a concern. Getting a defence solicitor is standard practice and is something everyone should do. It does not look suspicious to the police and will not be treated as such. Regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty, you should ask a specialist criminal defence solicitor to represent you.
Do I need a solicitor if I intend to plead guilty?
On the other hand, some people say they do not need a solicitor because they accept the charge and intend to plead guilty. Be that as it may, we still recommend that you have a solicitor on your side. A solicitor can help in all the ways listed above, including:
- Advising you of your rights
- Explaining what happens next
- Objecting to misleading questions
Your solicitor can also plead mitigation on your behalf. This is when you accept that you are guilty, but request leniency during sentencing on various grounds. For example, it could be that you pleaded guilty early and co-operated fully with the police investigation. If so, your solicitor can highlight this during the sentencing hearing. This ensure that you get the best possible outcome, even with a guilty plea.
When to speak to a solicitor – different scenarios
To reiterate, we recommend speaking to a criminal defence solicitor as soon as you realise that you are suspected of committing a crime, or linked to a crime in any way. This moment of realisation comes at different times for everyone, as it all depends on the circumstances. For example, it could be that:
The police knock on your door to ask you questions: if the police visit you at home (or at work, or anywhere else) then they may say they want to “ask a few questions”. You do not have to answer any questions, although it may give the police grounds for arrest if you refuse. Once the police leave, you should contact our solicitors can tell them about the encounter. Or if you are arrested, you can request that you have legal representation at the station.
The police knock on your door with a search warrant: if the police have a warrant, then you cannot obstruct the search. However, you should contact our solicitors and explain that your property is being searched. We can advise you from there.
The police arrest you: then you should ask to speak to a duty solicitor, or a solicitor of your choosing (such as the solicitors here at Ashmans) as soon as you arrive at the station. The police cannot interview you until you have either spoken to your solicitor, or your solicitor is present. This is entirely free under legal aid.
Related: What Are My Rights If Arrested?
The police invite you to the police station for a chat: a ‘chat’ is another way of saying an ‘informal interview’. You should contact our solicitors before going to the station and explain that you have been invited for an informal interview. A solicitor can then accompany you to the police station.
England and Wales
If you need a solicitor, contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors. We are one of the country’s leading law firms. We offer straight-talking, high-quality advice.
Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.