The simple answer is….NO!

Everyone, regardless of how much you earn or how much money you have in the bank, is entitled to free legal advice if you are arrested and detained at a police station. The same rule applies if you are asked to go into a police station on a voluntary basis to be interviewed about allegations made against you.

So why do many people not ask for legal help? The stock answers I receive are “I had nothing to hide”, “I had done nothing wrong so didn’t need a solicitor”, or the old favourite “If I asked for a solicitor that would mean I was guilty wouldn’t it?” My usual response is if you have done nothing wrong then you are the ones that need legal help the most.

The law is complicated and no matter how many episodes of Judge John Deed or Midsummer Murders you watch it does not qualify you to know the intricacies of the law. You may feel that you have done nothing wrong but technically you may be guilty of an offence and by going into a police interview without proper advice can often lead to clients talking themselves into more serious charges than those that were initially under investigation! The police interview is perhaps the most vital part of a criminal investigation and what is said or not in that interview can, in some cases, make the difference between being released without charge on the one hand and a prison sentence after conviction on the other.

Time and time again I have to tell clients that by failing to seek advice they have left themselves with no option but to plead guilty to offences they believe they are innocent of because they have admitted all the elements of the offence during police interview which could have been avoided by taking proper advice. Before all the lawyer bashers start getting up in arms about this, it does not mean that a lawyer would get you to lie or help you make up a story – despite popular opinion we do not do that! However, considered legal advice can point out the lack of admissible evidence, available defences and prevent people from being persuaded to admit offences where there is no evidence despite what they have been told by others.

So, if you are arrested remember there is nothing wrong with exercising your legal rights; they are there to protect you. You can either ask for a solicitor or firm of your choice, most local firms undertake police station advice work 24 hours per day 7 days a week, or alternatively you can ask for the Duty Solicitor. Whichever you choose, it may be the best decision you ever make.

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