Being interviewed by police? Don’t forget your solicitor
Being interviewed by police can be a daunting experience. Here are some reasons why you should always bring your solicitor:
1. Our services are free
No matter what you are being interviewed for, when the interview takes place or how much money you have, our services are free to you as our costs are covered by the legal aid scheme in Northern Ireland.
There is an important reason for this. The criminal justice system realises that you should not be concerned about finances when under police investigation. Your focus should be entirely on the investigation and the questions you are asked.
2. We are independent
Even though solicitors are paid by the government, we are independent of the police and courts. You can therefore speak to us in confidence and our advice will be in your interests alone.
3. We understand criminal procedure
If you haven’t been investigated before, it is unlikely you will have much knowledge of the criminal justice system. The rules of evidence, police powers and your rights as a suspect can be complicated. Solicitors can ensure they are followed and that your rights are protected throughout. We will ensure you are fit to be interviewed and can arrange for other professionals, such as Appropriate Adults or Registered Intermediaries, to be present to help you if we feel it necessary.
4. We will seek pre-interview disclosure
Your solicitor will speak to the interviewing officer before the interview to get information about your case and the types of questions you will be asked. We will then speak to you in private, take your instructions and give you advice. This process gives you time to think and should allow you to give more informed and considered answers when being interviewed.
It is our experience that the police will usually not provide pre-interview disclosure if you do not have a solicitor present.
5. What you say is important
Being interviewed by police is a formal process designed to elicit facts about your suspected involvement in a criminal offence. You will normally be cautioned and what you say will be recorded and may be used in evidence against you in subsequent court proceedings. A police interview is never a “quick chat” or a “friendly discussion”. A solicitor will ensure the questions you are asked are appropriate and that you understand the implications of answering them.
6. We can negotiate on your behalf
At the end of the interview, the police will have to decide what to do next. They might want to arrange another interview, charge you with an offence, remand you in custody or dispose of the case by giving you a Caution or an Informed Warning. A solicitor can negotiate for you to help you achieve the best outcome. This could mean suggesting appropriate bail conditions or lesser charges to those initially proposed.
7. We will be ready for court, if necessary
Having your solicitor present from the outset, during the police interview, means we will be ready to defend you in any subsequent court proceedings. We will know what was said/not said during your interview and will be aware of the evidence the police have against you. This will help us advise you appropriately from the outset of the proceedings.
Being interviewed by police? Contact us today
If you have been invited to a voluntary interview, contact us now so that we can arrange a suitable date and time for the interview to take place.
If you or someone you know is in police custody awaiting interview, tell the police that you wish to have a solicitor present. They will have our details on their system and will tell us to come in to represent you.