Interview Under Caution: Do I need a solicitor?
An interview under caution at the police station is also known as a ‘Caution + 3’ interview, or a voluntary interview. You will usually be contacted by a police officer who will ask you to come to the police station at a certain time because they want to talk to you about an offence, usually a fairly minor one or something that happened a while ago. Sometimes they will tell you they just ‘want a quick chat’.
Interview under caution; your rights;
Anybody who attends the police station for an interview under caution is entitled to free and independent legal advice. We will attend the police station with you at an agreed time. You won’t have to wait for a solicitor.
You are free to leave at any time, although if you leave before the interview there is the danger that you could be arrested. If you attend the police station as a volunteer you should not be arrested, unless the officer can show that one of the grounds for arrest exists. You probably won’t be searched and you won’t have your DNA and fingerprints taken. You will not have to go into a cell.
Why should I have a solicitor?
Well why wouldn’t you? For a start, it’s free. To everybody, no matter how much or how little they earn. That should probably be a good enough reason in itself, but many people still choose not to have a solicitor.
Before you are interviewed, the police officer will give your solicitor ‘disclosure’. They will tell us what you have been arrested for, and give us a summary of the evidence. We will then speak to you in private before you are interviewed. Your lawyer will tell you what you are going to be questioned about and what evidence the police have. We will advise you on the law and if you should be answering the questions or not.
Even if you are not under arrest, what you say or don’t say in your interview is still important. If you end up in court many months later, the Judge and jury, or magistrates, will know what you said or didn’t say in your interview and will pay close attention to it. If you do the right thing in your interview, you might not even get to court. You might be given a caution or your case might be dealt with in another way that means you don’t have to go to court. You might not even be charged. It can make a big difference to the outcome of your case, so you should still have a solicitor.
It doesn’t make you look guilty;
If you are ill, you go to a doctor. If your car breaks down, you go to a garage. You get help from someone who knows what they are doing and is there to help you. The same applies to someone attending an interview under caution.
Just because you feel you haven’t done anything wrong, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a solicitor;
In fact, it makes you need one even more. If you say or do the wrong thing, you might end up getting charged with something you didn’t do.
If you are in being interviewed in the police station, there is no such thing as ‘not very serious’;
A conviction for even a ‘minor’ offence can have a significant impact on your life. It might stop you getting a job, or it might stop you travelling to places like America, and that is before you have to pay a fine, have a curfew or do unpaid work, or even go to prison. Calling us to come and represent you is not ‘bothering us’. It is what solicitors are there for.
What happens after the interview?
Following your interview under caution, you will be free to leave. Sometimes the officer will be able to tell you straight away what is going to happen. Usually, the Police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will have to consider the case and then decide how to proceed. Should they decide there is sufficient evidence against you and that you should go to Court, then you will get a summons in the post. The summons will detail the charge against you and will give you the date to attend Court.
If you have any questions or you want us to assist you in arranging a voluntary interview, please contact us on 0207 388 1658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and ask to speak to one of our experienced criminal lawyers.
John Howey, senior solicitor
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written, which may affect the information and advice given therein.