Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
I hope you never need this advice and you are never summonsed to a formal interview by the Police or other public body but it is worth reading this article in case you are because you need this knowledge before you make a decision as to how to handle it.
The scenario is this. For some reason you are involved in some sort of problem, possibly unwittingly and you may well believe you are entirely innocent and therefore there should be no problem. The Police ask you to attend an interview. This may be as a voluntary attender so you are not under any obligation to go; you are not under arrest; it will appear to you that this is a casual and informal matter.
Alternatively, you may be invited to interview by another public/statutory body such as the Environment Agency, Public Health, Health and Safety Executive, Immigration Office etc. Again, you may be asked to attend voluntarily and may think this is an informal and casual process.
Let me appraise you of the fact that this is not casual, it is not informal and it must be handled seriously and with the utmost of care to ensure you protect yourself.
Consider the purpose of why you are being asked to attend an interview. It is not to acquit you of all blame and prove your innocence. It is because a matter is being investigated that could result in formal prosecution and a formal finding of guilt against you. That will mean potentially stressful and costly legal proceedings. If those legal proceedings against you are successful then it could mean serious penalties. We are familiar with the penalties which Police prosecutions can bring but not so familiar with the penalties that prosecutions by other statutory bodies can bring but those include infringements of our liberty and hefty financial penalties, so these prosecutions can be just as serious as prosecutions by the Police/Crown Prosecution Service and must be handled in the same cautious way.
Hopefully you will ask yourself the question before the interview, do I need a lawyer? There is only one right answer to this question and it is YES.
I cannot think of any interview by the Police or a public authority where it would not be justified and sensible for the person questioned to have a lawyer present with them. It is absolutely vital in every case.
You may say to yourself, but I have done nothing wrong, surely if I tell the truth everything will be fine and nothing bad will happen.
Again, let me appraise you of the fact that that is a completely false belief.
The prosecuting authority, be they the Police or other prosecuting authority, are looking to prosecute you and therefore any evidence you give will be used as evidence against you. Some of the evidence you give will be relevant and some of it won’t but you could very easily incriminate yourself without even knowing that you are doing that.
Formal interviews are very stressful experiences indeed. You are powerless, you succumb to the procedure and really have no ability to control or manage it. You will probably feel quite afraid and certainly intimidated and be in no fit state to protect yourself and think “outside the box”. That is where the lawyer comes in. The lawyer will not only ensure all the proper procedures are followed and only questions that are relevant need to answered or maybe questions need not be answered at all but a lawyer will be a person on your side with you so if you need time out, if you need to discuss something, if you are uncertain, if you just feel worried, then that lawyer will ensure those worries are accommodated and the matter can be adjourned or postponed until you feel able to deal with it. The lawyer will also advise you as to your right of silence and what the significance of the interview is and discuss with you how best the interview should be approached from a tactical point of view.
Unfortunately, those interviewing you are effectively your opponents in a dispute; they are not your friends and they are not on your side. We are used, in normal life, to thinking of the Police and those in public bodies as being on our side as they are upholding the law and prosecuting those who fall foul of it. The problem in this situation is that the person who they believe has fallen foul of it, is you and in that case they are not your friends, they are your opponents in what could be a lengthy and stressful court battle.
The interview process is an absolutely crucial one to what happens after the interview i.e. whether you do get prosecuted and if so for what. What is said at the interview and the way it is handled will have a very important bearing on what the public prosecutor decides to do so it is absolutely vital you have proper and specialist advice and help during that process. It could be the difference between being prosecuted and not. It could mean the difference between an out of court disposal being adopted instead of formal prosecution. It could be the difference between being prosecuted for a lesser offence rather than a more serious one.
For Police interviews you are entitled to legal representation free of charge under the Duty Solicitor Scheme, so if you use the Duty Solicitor Scheme there is really nothing to lose by having legal representation and this scheme can apply more widely to other prosecutions as well. Alternatively if you have a particular lawyer you want to use they may well be willing to act for you, albeit on a fee earning basis. But, it is certainly worthwhile putting investment in at this early stage because, as I say, that can have a very real bearing on what happens later and save you both time, stress and money in the longer term.
I realise this advice is somewhat unpleasant to read and I very much hope that none of you will ever need it but I can guarantee that some of you will and if you follow this advice and get a good lawyer at the outset and make sure they go to the interview with you, you will not regret it.
If you need any help concerning any prosecution and/or formal interview contact Katherine Flashman Kitson at Parnalls Solicitors on 01566 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Landowners’ rights and the Electronic Communications Code
Building in your back garden
Christmas is a time for giving (and inheritance planning)
Buying the freehold of your leasehold house
Redeveloping an empty pub for commercial use
Why it takes time to obtain the Grant of Probate
Social Media: The unconscious privacy threat
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.