The caution reads: “You have the right to remain silent; but it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.” These words are often said quickly by police officers and it is easy to misunderstand them. This is one reason why it’s important to instruct us to represent you as soon as possible after you have been arrested. We will explain what the caution means, why it’s significant, and how it can have a very serious impact upon your case.
When you are arrested you may be searched, and there can be a number of reasons for this. It may be because you are thought to be a danger to yourself or to others, that you have something that you may use to assist an escape, or that you may have evidence in your possession relating to an offence. The police have other powers in relation to stop and search as well.
If you are not arrested, you do not have to go to the police station. If you go voluntarily, then you can leave the police station at any time but the police could then decide to arrest you, if that would be appropriate.
If you assist with an investigation that is conducted outside a police station, you may be eligible for free legal support through the Legal Aid Authority Advice and Assistance scheme. This depends on how much money you have, and whether or not it would be in the interests of justice for you to get this funding. We will be able to advise you on this and help you apply if we think you might qualify. You would need to give us evidence of your means (your income etc) and would have to keep us informed of any changes in your circumstances.
Once you are at the police station, after you have been arrested, you can:
- have someone told of your arrest;
- see a copy of the Codes of Practice under the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984;
- see a medical professional free of charge if you feel unwell;
- have access to a solicitor FREE OF CHARGE. This solicitor can be one that you nominate, or a duty solicitor. If you choose to instruct us, the police will contact the Defence Solicitor Call Centre which in turn will telephone our team.
You should exercise your right to nominate us as your solicitor as soon as possible. We will have a better sense of what you should or should not say to the police in interview and may be able to find out more about the circumstances of the alleged offence. We will be better placed to then advise you fully as to your rights and how best to respond. Sometimes the police will suggest that calling for a solicitor may cause a delay or is “unnecessary”. That delay is unlikely to be significant and any downsides to that are far outweighed by the advantages of having your solicitor alongside you to help, advise, and assist you at interview.