New guidelines are set to be introduced to promote pre-charge engagement between the police and a suspect. Under the right circumstances, this could be beneficial for both parties. However, it is vital that the accused gets expert legal advice first, before collaborating with the police.
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What is pre-charge engagement?
Pre-charge engagement is when someone suspected of a criminal offence co-operates with a police investigation. This takes place after the first police interview and before charges are formally laid.
If you are interviewed on suspicion of committing a criminal offence, then you can decide whether or not to engage with the police. The process is entirely voluntary and you can change your mind at any time.
Furthermore, if you decide not to engage with the police, then this cannot be held against you at a later date.
What might pre-charge engagement involve?
Pre-charge engagement is more than simply agreeing to further police interviews. Rather, it must aid the police investigation. This might involve:
- Commenting on/identifying further lines of enquiry
- Providing access to digital material
- Revealing ways to overcome potential barriers to obtaining potential evidence, such as providing encryption keys
- Suggesting keyword searches of digital material
- Consenting to the release of your medical records
- Identifying/providing contact details for potential witnesses
Should you agree to pre-charge engagement?
You should only agree to pre-charge engagement once you have spoken to a criminal defence solicitor.
The police may ask whether you wish to help with the investigation before you have seen a lawyer. However, the police must also explain that you have the right to legal advice, and give you time to contact a solicitor. It is vital that you exercise this right. Do not worry about the cost – you are entitled to free legal representation at the police station.
A criminal defence solicitor can consider your position before advising whether it is wise to agree to pre-charge engagement. Under the right circumstances, pre-charge engagement can be highly beneficial to you. It can allow you to establish your innocence, avoid charges early in proceedings, and limit the stress you are placed under. But on certain occasions, it may be preferable to decline pre-charge engagement and remain silent. The right strategy depends on the details of your case.
Contact our criminal defence solicitors now
As specialist criminal defence solicitors, we remain at the forefront of any legal developments. We are trained in these new guidelines and can advise whether pre-charge engagement would be appropriate in your case. If so, we can represent you throughout proceedings, engaging with the police on your behalf to secure the best possible outcome.
If you have been taken to a police station for an interview, contact us now for free legal advice.
You can call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.