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Your Rights at the Police Station

March 12, 2020 by in category News with 0 and 0
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Your Rights at the Police Station

When the police have either detained a person or are investigating an allegation, there is a possibility that an interview could take place. In most drink and drug driving cases, there will be no interview. However, usually only where there are missing pieces of key information, the police will try to close the gaps in their case by interviewing the suspect.

The police rely on what is said in interview to gather further information regarding an alleged offence, and what is said in the interview can mean the difference between being charged, and no further action being taken. It can also mean the difference between ultimately winning a case and losing a case, and therefore what is said, or not said, during a police interview is incredibly important.

As a police interview will often be motivated by a desire to get the alleged offender to further incriminate themselves making “No Comment” will be advised in the majority of cases. However, there are important exceptions to this depending on the facts of the case.

Right to a Solicitor

When being interviewed, you should be informed that you have the right to consult with a solicitor. This can either be a duty solicitor or your own solicitor. It is always recommended that whilst being interviewed, or being asked to attend a voluntary interview, that you ensure your solicitor is present. Before the interview your solicitor should go through a process of “disclosure” with the interviewing officer. This is when information is given to your solicitor regarding the allegation about which you are being interviewed. The information provided to your solicitor should assist in the advice being formulated and you being advised whether or not to make “No Comment”, produce a prepared statement, or answer all questions.

“No Comment” Interviews

“You have the right to remain silent”. Whilst this seems almost a cliché said in every TV police drama it could not be more true when in relation to police interviews. Whilst being interviewed, you have the right to say nothing or “No Comment” to all questions posed to you. Although we have to urge anyone reading this to seek specific advice about your own case, the benefit of not answering questions is that you are ensuring the police are not strengthening their case against you. In some situations, this can lead to no further action being taken against you. In other cases, it can mean that the Prosecution may not have enough evidence to prove the case against you if charged, and therefore in most situations saying nothing is often the best option.

There are, however, some situations when giving information to the police if this information is something you wish to later rely on in your defence at court, may be the best option.

This is because if you fail to raise the defence you plan on using when at court but later bring it up as your defence, the court is entitled to draw an “adverse inference” by the fact you failed to mention it when questioned. In other words, they could reach the conclusion that you have fabricated your defence as you did not mention it when you could have done at the time you were in custody (before you had chance to google defences and make something up!) The most common defence that should be raised when interviewed is if you drank alcohol AFTER you drove. Often referred to as a “hip-flask” defence.

Prepared Statements

When our client is very nervous or when we want to control the interview and information that is disclosed, we may recommend drafting a prepared statement outlining the essential information relevant to your defence without you being left to deal with answering all of the questions posed by the police officer. The benefits of this option are that you will not be caught off guard by any questions, as you can simply refer to your statement for what you are willing to comment upon regarding the alleged offence. This option may be best when putting forward a “Hip Flask Defence” as outlined above or when putting forward the Statutory Defence to being “in-charge” of a motor vehicle, as you will give the details that are important at the outset of a matter so the Court cannot draw an inference as to why you didn’t give the information earlier.

Producing a prepared statement may, in some cases, be the trickiest of all the options, especially if the police have evidence that contradicts your statement. Producing a prepared statement may place you in some difficulties and therefore this option is not always the right choice.

Answering Questions

q and aWhilst it is incredibly rare that the advice given should be to answer all questions, there are situations when this may be in your best interests. Those situations are:

  1. When you honestly and truthfully did not commit the offence in question and have a cast iron defence/alibi; and
  2. When you are facing a very serious allegation and the evidence against you is overwhelming.

If you did not commit the offence, then assisting and putting forward information that could result in no further action taken may help you avoid being charged and having to defend yourself in court.

The most common situation when it is likely in your best interests to answer questions fully is when under investigation for Perverting the Course of Justice cases where admitting what you have done at the earliest opportunity could mean the difference between going to and avoiding prison altogether.

What should I do if I have been called in for an interview?

If you have been called in for an interview regarding a motoring offence it is always best to have representation from an experienced police station adviser. This is to ensure you are given the best advice on whether you should put forward an account or not during the interview. If you have been called to attend a voluntary interview regarding a motoring offence, or you have been interviewed already in regards to a motoring offence and want advice on your options, please make contact with us and a member of our legal team will be happy in advising you on how we can help.

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