Do you need a solicitor when being questioned by the police?

When a crime is being investigated, the process undertaken by the police demands that they interview everyone involved. 

While this does not mean that every person that is interviewed is a suspect, it is essential to remember that the police are looking out for any evidence they can use. It can be challenging to know when – or even if – it is the right time to ask for a solicitor.

Do you need a solicitor when being questioned by the police?

Many people fear that asking for a solicitor makes them look guilty, while others are not aware of precisely what role the solicitor has in an interview situation.

So to help clarify the subject, let us look closer at what precisely a solicitor can help with, and at what point it might be a good idea to ask to see one.

Advantages of having a solicitor present

When heading into an interview with the police, it is vitally important to keep two things in mind at all times.

  1. Everything you say will be recorded. This can be through an audio recording, or on video. Often it is both.
  2. There is no such thing as a quick, informal chat with the police. Their sole purpose is to uncover information and gather evidence purporting to the crime they are investigating.

1. Can help you provide useful information

Your interaction with the police does not need to be adversarial. On the contrary, if you are innocent, it is good to try and help the investigation progress by giving information that is as accurate as possible. 

This can be a good reason why having a solicitor present might be helpful. They can help you to only stick to the facts and useful information. This will make your interview move quicker and lessens the chance that you will be asked back for a second or third interview in the future.

2. Can protect you from a false confession

At many times throughout history, innocent people have been pressured into giving a false confession. This is less common today. However, there is always that risk.

Everyone reacts differently when being put under pressure, or if they are afraid or in some other distress. Investigators are trained to take advantage of these things to obtain information or even confessions. Solicitors can offer a dispassionate voice of reason on your side, that can help guide you in these discussions.

3. Can obtain information from investigators

Solicitors have access to specific pieces of information that interviewees or suspects do not. This can offer a huge advantage when going into an interview or discussion with the police.

This is especially true if you are a suspect in a criminal investigation. Solicitors have the authority to collect information about what you are being charged with, and why the charges are being brought against you. They can find out what has led to the investigators suspecting you, and use this to prepare you for the interviews better.

4. Act as a legally trained mediator

While solicitors themselves are not allowed to answer questions or speak for you in the interview itself, they can be hugely helpful in deciphering cryptic questions and telling you when it is better not to speak.

They are trained in legal matters and can make sure that the investigator is complying with all of the rules governing how a suspect should be interviewed.

When to ask for a solicitor

It would be best if you asked to speak to a solicitor as soon as you are accused of committing a crime. At that point, everything you say will be on record and could count against you.

Even if you are not being accused of anything, you are well within your rights to ask for a solicitor to be present. This will not make you seem guilty and is an ordinary course of action for many.

Do you need a solicitor?

The answer to this question can depend hugely on the individual, and on what their situation is.

As we have mentioned, many innocent people fear that asking for a solicitor to be present makes them appear guilty. This is not the case. Police officers are well aware that is the legal right of everyone to have legal counsel present.

Others may think that the interview will be just an informal chat, and with a friendly officer, it can be easy to feel comfortable. While there is nothing wrong with feeling comfortable, it can make it easier to give misleading or vague information accidentally. This is another reason why solicitors can be useful.

In short, it is often a good idea to ask for a solicitor to be present. It is free, and one can be provided for you if you do not have your own already.

Need more information?

Want to know more about how a solicitor can help when the police are questioning you? Our experts are available to talk to now! They can provide specialised advice and information particular to your situation, and even recommend what course of action you should take next. Contact our legal experts directly!

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