“I have been asked to attend a Police station for a voluntary interview. I feel having a Solicitor will make me seem guilty when I’m not. What would you suggest?”
First of all I want to make it clear that instructing a Solicitor when speaking with a law enforcer, such as a Police officer, absolutely does not make you seem guilty. Having a Solicitor to accompany you for questioning demonstrates that you are taking the situation seriously, even if the request is for a voluntary interview.
However you’re not alone as 40% of the UK population attend a Police station with no legal representation. This is due to a combination of people believing that having a Solicitor to accompany you to a Police station interview is only for guilty people and that they believe a Solicitor would be expensive.
In fact what many people do not know is that appointing a Solicitor to accompany you at the Police station is free and is your legal right to have access to one for free.
Why you should have a Solicitor with you for a voluntary interview
It’s a scary thought, but you might find yourself in a situation where you are asked to visit a Police station at a later date for a voluntary interview or are arrested by a Police officer and taken to a Police station for questioning.
If you are attending the Police station for a voluntary interview then you are not under arrest. However the Police officer who has invited you to the interview may make you feel that the interview is informal which may imply that it won’t take long and ‘there is nothing to worry about’. But attending an interview voluntarily still means that you are under suspicion of committing a criminal act or series of acts.
The interview you will face will be exactly the same as if the interview was taken with you being arrested and detained. You may gain a false sense security about the whole situation. Though you will be allowed to leave at any time, you may find the Police will arrest and detain you if you try to do so.
You may also find that you are being interviewed under caution and can be summonsed to attend court for the alleged offence which you were questioned about.
Without legal advice, you may be charged with offences because you do not know the law, or you may find yourself accepting offences wrongly believing that it would not go to court. Not only is the court process a long and drawn out process that can seriously affect lives, but it could result in a criminal conviction.
When you instruct a Solicitor the investigating officers will usually provide disclosure to us before the interview which gives an opportunity for you and your Solicitor to meet and discuss the situation. Entering the interview room without knowing the full nature and extend of the allegations means you may not be prepared for questioning. This can result in you saying things you didn’t mean because you felt under pressure during interview. It can be very difficult to reverse any damage or try to explain why something was or was not said.
Attending a voluntary interview, as it is in the future on a pre-arranged date, allows you to also contact a Solicitor of your choice in advance and discuss the situation with them, gain valuable advice and answer any questions about the procedure, the evidence or anything else of concern. The preparation before interview can have a real and positive impact on the direction of the proceedings and help avoid criminal prosecution.
Do I need to pay for a Solicitor?
You can pay privately if you wish, however you do not have to pay. Legal aid is available for Solicitors for everyone as it is your right to have legal representation.
You can contact a law firm, such as Howells, before your voluntary interview, or the Police interviewer will ask if you would like a duty solicitor appointed to you and you can ask the officer for a specific law firm. The legal representation is free in any of these situations.
If you opt for a duty solicitor at the station, without asking for a specific law firm, you will be appointed a Solicitor from a law firm who is on the Police station rota at that time. However you can specifically ask for Howells to represent you, and we work 24/7 representing clients at the Police station. Do not feel you must take the duty Solicitor who is on the rota at that time. You can ask for us.
Howells offers professional and free legal advice for any person who attends a Police station for questioning, and we offer a dedicated 24 hour phone service where you can contact a Solicitor. We are also conveniently located close to Police stations and can be with you quickly, however be sure to request Howells Solicitors as your duty Solicitor at the Police station.
You can contact us 9am- 5pm on our enquiry line or out of hours on our dedicated mobile phone.
Sheffield – 0114 249 66 66
Barnsley – 01226 805 190
Rotherham – 01709 364 000
24 Hr number – 07774162757 if you need urgent advice about a police interview.