So you have received a phone call from the Police after that unfortunate incident last week?
They want to have a little chat? Would you mind coming down to the police station on Thursday at 10.a.m....Just to get your side of the story..You ask? Do I need a Lawyer?
Matter for you?..They say? Its only a voluntary interview? What should you do?
You ask your friends and family. None of them quite know what is a voluntary interview? You ask members of your family? Surely if you were in trouble the Police would arrest you?
Relieved! You turn up on the day...How wrong you were!
What is a voluntary interview?
A voluntary interview is where a police officer asks you to attend at a police station to be interviewed about a criminal offence. The first thing to realise is that your ARE a SUSPECT for that Criminal offence. Due to recent changes in the Criminal Law the police can only now arrest you for a criminal offence if they can show that it is necessary to do so i.e. to secure or preserve evidence or due to the fact that you will not attend the police station so that you can be interviewed voluntarily.
A voluntary interview has the same status in law as one that has been conducted when you are under arrest. You have a free right to legal advice ! and the police must offer it to you at the beginning of any interview for a criminal offence.
Frequently we find police officers do not make suspects aware that a voluntary interview means that they are suspected of having committed a criminal offence or they conveniently forget to point out to the attendee that they are entitled to free legal advice either through the local free duty solicitor scheme administered by the legal aid agency.
Free legal advice is also available at the police station or anywhere where you are interviewed by a police constable in uniform from a criminal solicitor's firm.
At the beginning of any interview you will be told that you are entitled to free legal advice either in person or on the telephone from the duty solicitor. We strongly advise you to not fall into the trap of thinking that such advice is not needed and that asking for such advice will make you appear guilty in the eyes of the police.
The police's job is to enforce the criminal law and to bring, who they believe to have broken it before a court. They are not lawyers and have no duty to you to give you free independent advice about what you should do in a police interview and how to protect your legal position.
A criminal solicitor representing you in interview can often make the difference between you being charged with an offence following an interview or not.
Legal advice is available from the duty solicitor scheme 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 365 days a year including bank holidays, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and during all unsociable hours. It is free. It is not means tested. You do not have to pay a penny.
Frequently the police will try and discourage you from having such advice stating it will take time for the solicitor to attend the police station. All criminal solicitors who are duty solicitors must attend the police station within 45 minutes of being informed that the police are ready to interview you.
Waiting 45 minutes or less for a solicitor to attend on you at interview could make the difference between:-
(1) Getting a criminal record or not.
(2) Going to prison for a lengthy time or not.
(3) No further action being taken against you by the police or the prosecution or not.
(4) Being detained for an inordinate length of time while the police investigate the matter or not?
Police station advice is free. You do not pay for it.
Can you afford not to take it up?
We provide police station representation for criminal solicitor firms and there clients. If you need a criminal solicitor in the Kent or south-east London area please contact us on (07535) 494446.