Your solicitor’s role during a police interview is to protect your best interests. Your solicitor will achieve this by requesting disclosure from the police, advising you what questions to answer (and how to answer them), and ensuring that your legal rights are upheld.
If you have been arrested or you have been invited for a voluntary police interview, contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. Our criminal defence lawyers offer free police station representation. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What does a solicitor do at a police interview?
A criminal defence solicitor performs a number of important tasks before, during and after a police interview.
Firstly, your solicitor will request disclosure from the police. This is when the police provide information about the reason for your arrest and the evidence against you. You are not allowed to request disclosure; only your legal representative can do this. This puts you at a significant advantage, as you will have a better insight as to why you are under suspicion.
Without disclosure, you will be on the backfoot during the police interview. That is why the police often prefer to interview a suspect without a solicitor present. It provides them with greater control, as they can withhold information from you. They can also mislead you into thinking they know more than they do.
Meet with you before the interview
Once your solicitor has obtained disclosure from the police, he or she will meet you in private. You can then discuss what evidence the police have against you, and the best approach to take in light of this information. It might be preferable to co-operate with the police. Alternatively, you may have an alibi or a defence that needs to be established. A solicitor can take instructions from you and can advise you on how to proceed. Having this private consultation allows you to create a ‘plan of action’, making you better prepared for the interview.
Ensure correct procedures
When the interview is underway, your solicitor will check that the correct procedures are being followed. Procedural irregularities do occur, sometimes to the detriment of the detainee. As a layperson, it is very difficult to know whether the police are complying with the necessary rules. A solicitor can identify any irregularities straightaway.
Object to inappropriate questions
You may have seen police dramas where the suspect’s solicitor objects to certain questions during the interview process. This also happens in real life. Your criminal defence solicitor can say whether a question posed by the police is inappropriate, perhaps because it is misleading or irrelevant to the line of questioning. This ensures you do not accidentally incriminate yourself.
It is difficult to object to police questions without a solicitor present. This is first because you might not necessarily know whether a question is appropriate or not. Secondly, your answer could be treated as a ‘no comment’, which could actually work against you later down the line.
Advise what to say and what not to say
In a similar vein, your solicitor can advise you what questions to answer, and what questions to respond to with ‘no comment’.
You have the right to silence and do not necessarily have to answer any police questions. However, a lack of co-operation may be looked at unfavourably by the court, should your case progress that far. Furthermore, if you do not answer a particular question at the police station, but you do answer that same question in court, it will look suspicious. The court may infer that you have provided a false answer, having had time to consider your response. Your solicitor will be very aware of this and will advise you on the best approach from a tactical point of view.
Your solicitor can also stop the interview if you require further legal advice or want to discuss the matter in more detail. If there is anything you do not understand, then your solicitor is there to provide greater clarification. Your solicitor is on your side and is on hand to provide the support and guidance you need.
Help establish your defence
As criminal defence solicitors, we often say that the key to a successful defence starts during the police interview. Remember that your interview will be recorded and anything you say can be produced as evidence, should your case go to court. Therefore, if admit to wrong-doing or accidentally incriminate yourself, it is very difficult to take these statements back.
Your solicitor will help you to establish your defence from the get-go. This could bring the matter to a swift conclusion, as the police may quickly realise that you are not connected to any criminal activity. Even if your case does go to court, you can be confident that your police interview will not work against you, aiding your defence.
If there is a dispute as to what occurred at the police station, then your solicitor may even be called upon to give evidence. Having a solicitor present is much like having a witness present – he or she can verify certain events, confirming what did (and what did not) happen.
Uphold your rights
You have certain legal rights when you are being interviewed by the police. This includes the right to:
- Free legal advice
- Tell someone where you are
- Medical treatment
- See the Police Code of Practice
- An interpreter, if English is not your first language
- An appropriate adult, if you are under the age of 18 or a vulnerable person
Related: What Are My Rights if Arrested?
Your criminal defence solicitor can make sure that your legal rights are upheld, while you are being detained at a police station, and/or during your police interview.
Arrange for special measures
Your solicitor can also identify whether you have any special needs. If so, your solicitor can take steps to put the necessary measures in place. This might be required if you have a physical or mental disability, for example.
After the police interview, your solicitor can advise what happens next. You may be released under investigation. If so, your solicitor can explain what this means and support you through the next steps. If you are held in custody, then your solicitor can work to secure your early release, whether on bail or otherwise. You can only be held in custody for a certain amount of time. Your solicitor will ensure that you are not unlawfully held.
When to speak to a solicitor
You are entitled to free legal advice from a solicitor before you are questioned by the police. This right extends to everyone in England and Wales, no matter who you are. You do not have to pay for police station representation – it is always free under the Legal Aid scheme.
If you have been invited for a voluntary police interview, then you should speak to a solicitor before you attend the station. A solicitor can provide advice over the phone, or make plans to accompany you to the station.
If you have been arrested and taken to the police station, then you should ask to speak to a solicitor before the interview takes place. The police must heed this request; the interview cannot occur until you have talked to a legal representative. The police may try to persuade you against seeking legal advice. They may even say that it is unnecessary or will delay your release. Neither statement is true; you should ignore these claims and stick to your decision to talk to a lawyer. There may be a short delay while the solicitor travels to the station, but having a legal representative by your side is worth the wait.
When you ask for a solicitor to accompany you to a police interview, you can either take a solicitor of your choosing (such as the ones here at Ashmans) or you can call upon the duty solicitor.
Duty solicitors work on a rota and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At Ashmans Solicitors, we are also available to take your call 24/7. We have offices in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Dewsbury.
Contact us now
For free police station representation, contact us now on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.