Interview conducted by the police
If you are a suspect of being involved in committing a criminal offence you will be subjected to an interview which will be conducted by the police. It is highly advisable that you seek independent legal advice in relation to this so that you can consult your solicitor and he will explain the process of the interview and will come with you to the police station as it is your primary right to have your solicitor with you while you are being questioned. Your solicitor will give you all necessary information about the interview and he will also prepare you for the same. First of all, it is important to mention that you have several options to choose from in relation to the interview. As a suspect you always have the right to silence although inferences may be drawn from the suspect’s silence as a consequence which flows from being silent. Those circumstances when interference can be drawn are defined in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. The interview must also be conducted under caution in order for it to be legal. There are several options that you may choose from, these are considered below.
One of the options that your solicitor may advise you is to remain silent. This would be an appropriate action to take if there is not sufficient amount of evidence so that the police could prosecute you. You may also decide to remain silent if there was not adequate disclosure made to you, or if it is the best option for you as a suspect and it is in accordance with your circumstances. If you do decide to remain silent there are several advantages as well as disadvantages which could follow from this action to remain silent. The advantages are that the suspect is by this way taking control of his circumstances and situation as he is the one who controls what to say. If you do decide to remain silent you will also protect yourself from self-incrimination which in other words means that you will not create any evidence which would have adverse effects on your case and you will also not represent yourself in a way which would be revealed to the police and damage you. The disadvantage of remaining silent is that the police can draw adverse inferences from your silence. It is highly advisable that you answer the questions of the police in case that the above circumstances do not exist or when you want to convince the police not to charge an offence or when you want to avoid any adverse inference. The advantage in answering questions is that you will avoid adverse inferences, also if you are cooperating with the police this may seem as a positive point and may be raised as a mitigation point in relation to your case. Disadvantages of answering the questions are that everything you say can be used against you as evidence. It is also not good if you present yourself in a poor or damaging account, or you could also loose control over what information you are disclosing. If you decide to select situations in which you remain silent this does not create a good impression on the judge and the jury. The third option that you may decide to pursue is to hand in prepared documents. This means that you would have a prepared statement which you would hand in to the police prior to your interview. The interview would still take place but you would be advised to remain silent or to answer to the questions ‘no comment’. This option is particularly appropriate if you are psychically unstable or you have problems with your concentration or expressions as this would make a bad impression on the police. This option is also suitable if you want to defend yourself and use those facts in relation to your defence but you also want to control how much information you will disclose to the police. It could protect yourself from self-incrimination and you would not create any damaging or poor account of yourself. There is also a significant disadvantage to this option and that is that you may not mention all the facts in your statements anyway and this could lead to adverse inferences being made. In all the circumstances it is best if you have a solicitor present at your interview.
The role of a solicitor who is present at the interview
A solicitor must ‘protect and advance the legal rights of a client’. A solicitor may also intervene at any stage of the interview in order to seek clarification of the question or may stop improper questions given to you and may advise you how or whether to answer the particular question. If a solicitor does not act pro-actively at the interview he may be criticised as it was held in the case law. A solicitor may be in some circumstances excluded from the interview if his or her behavior amounts to an improper one. Only the police officer of the rank of superintendent can exclude him from the interview.
If you were arrested and taken to the police station, the interview should run smoothly if you have a defence. It is not a case if you do not have one. You must make sure that a caution has been given to you and you also call your solicitor to accompany you at the interview at the police station. A solicitor is there to advise you on your circumstances too. If you are drunk or incapable of giving proper answers at the interview the interview should not take place. Your solicitor will then advise you on the above stated options and you will chose one of them.