"No comment"

29 Mar 2017

It is surprising how often we are instructed by Defendants after they have been interviewed under caution without legal representation.

Usually they explain that they believed it would delay matters if they asked for a solicitor.

In fact we have a maximum response time of 45 minutes to any police station in South Yorkshire and, having access to a nationwide agency system, we can offer a similar response time anywhere in England and Wales.

During office hours our response time to Doncaster Police Station can be 5 or 10 minutes. 

There are good reasons why a suspect should be legally represented at an interview. As the police caution explains:

1. A suspect does not have to say anything, and can maintain their right to silence if they wish to do so.

2. It may harm their defence if they do not mention when questioned something which they later rely upon at court in their defence.

3. Anything they do say can be given in evidence in court proceedings.

Sometimes believing it will shorten the interview and hasten their release a suspect may refuse to answer questions or “go no comment”.

If a suspect has no defence to advance, and will plead guilty if charged, there may be no advantage in answering questions.

However if a suspect has little or no criminal history and faces less serious allegations it may be that a full and frank confession at the first opportunity might result in his or her being dealt with by way of a caution rather than being prosecuted by the court.

If a suspect has a defence to advance it is usually imperative that he or she advance that defence clearly in interview, for two reasons:

1. If there is nothing to contradict the accusations, the police will be more likely to charge the alleged offence(s) whereas if a defence were advanced the police might be more likely to release without charge on the basis that the accusations could not be proved at court.

2. If a suspect is charged with an alleged offence and pleads not guilty, it may harm their defence if they have failed to mention in police interview matters which they could reasonably have been expected to mention.

Specifically, a court might draw an adverse inference for example, that the defendant had no answer that would have stood up to scrutiny or that he or she had since invented their account or tailored it to fit the prosecution evidence.

In other words, the court might infer that the account now given at court was untrue.

Accordingly we strongly advise any suspect who is to be interviewed under caution, either following arrest or at a voluntary attendance, to ask for legal representation.

Before the interview begins, we can obtain disclosure of the evidence from the officer and discuss it with the suspect in private, and we can discuss the suspect’s account with him or her and identify whether there is a defence. If so we can ensure that all relevant matters are mentioned during the interview so that if there is a trial no adverse inference should be drawn.

We can be contacted 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 07927 338920, but if you forget the number the police have our contact details so just ask them to contact Grainger Appleyard.