Facing Arrest

 

The advice below has been used with permission from accused.me.uk.

 

If you have recently been reported to the police or social services for allegations of a sexual nature, there are some things you can do to help your chances of a fair and impartial investigation.  The fact that you are able to look at this web site today suggests that the police do not yet have sufficient evidence to charge you.  If they did, you may well have been locked up, placed on remand and not have access to a computer.

 

If someone close to you had been raped or sexually assaulted, you’d want the police to do a thorough job of their investigation.  That is how the police see you now: you are their suspect.  The only way they can decide how far to take the allegation is to investigate and that will take time: a long time.

 

Please note, that the guidance below does not constitute legal advice and is only applicable to people being investigated in the UK.  FAHSA accepts no liability whatsoever for the any problems that may arise in your case from following the guidance below.  Should you read on and act upon this, you do so at your own risk.

 

You may well have been interviewed already.  The police should have offered you their duty solicitor, or perhaps you were interviewed without one because you decided that you just wanted to ‘help them with their inquiries’.  You may have already been bailed, to return for another bail appointment in a few weeks or months.

 

Advice:

  • If you haven’t yet been interviewed, and don’t already have a good criminal lawyer, then get yourself one before you speak with the police or social services.  Nonetheless, you should confirm that you’re willing to help them.  “I am very happy to help you, officer, and am happy to set a date to meet with you, but I want to do that with my own lawyer”.  If you’ve been interviewed without a lawyer, then go and get yourself one.

  • We entirely appreciate the desire to clear your name at the earliest opportunity, but if you talk freely to the police without a lawyer present and without composing yourself, the only thing you are likely to do is to help the police gather evidence against you.

  • If you have been involved with family law proceedings – e.g. through divorce or access to your children – contact your solicitor and explain what has been alleged.  Ask for their recommendations of at least two criminal solicitors who specialise in false accusations of a sexual nature.  Call them now.

  • It is very tempting to declare your innocence by telling the police your whole story early on, before you’ve had a chance to get important facts straight and consistent in your own mind.  Resist this. Do not speak to the police without a lawyer beside you, other than to confirm your willingness to assist with their inquiries.  When you do speak with the police, ask them for as much information as you can about the complaint that has been made about you.  This is all you are likely to know for some time.  The police are under no obligation to tell you all the details of the allegation, unless you are charged and that time could be many months away.

  • When you are interviewed, make sure you take along a lawyer, a legal executive or a friend who is competent to take verbatim notes of your meeting.  It is only through the questions that the police will put to you that you will learn anything about what you have been accused of. The police are under no obligation to tell you anything and they will typically want to keep you in the dark.  Unless you are re-interviewed, you may learn nothing else for many months before you are charged or your case is marked for ‘no further action’ (NFA).  These notes are all you can rely on.

  • Police officers are trained to interview you and will be looking to find inconsistencies with your memories.  You will be in a highly stressful situation, discussing events that might have occurred years ago and it will be all too easy to find that you have inadvertently given them evidence against you, rather than explaining your case well.  Take time with your lawyer to prepare what it is you really want to explain to the police, if indeed you talk with them at all.  Your lawyer may often advise you to do a “no comment” interview.  You may feel awkward answering “no comment” to completely reasonable questions from the police, when you just want to put your side of the case.  But it may be sound legal advice that you play the interview this way.  Check with your lawyer.

  • Even if that means sitting in a police cell under arrest, do not agree to speak with the police until you or your family can find a lawyer of your choice.  No friendly chats in your cell with the investigating officer.  No informal words in the back of the car when you’re being driven away after arrest.  Nothing.  Like they say when they arrest you, anything you say can be used against you.

  • If you’ve never been involved with the police and believe that they are there to help you, this is not what happens now.  This is not reporting a burglary at your home.  You are the subject of an allegation and the police are there to investigate you.  Should they find evidence against you, their job is to present this in court.

  • It follows from the above, that the police are not there to investigate your defence case. Remember the scales of justice?  Evidence for the allegation is the police’s job.  Evidence against is your defence team’s job.  Of course the police may come across evidence in your favour along the way, and that may well influence the Crown Prosecution Service’s wish to put you on trial, but primarily, it’s not what they are there to investigate.

  • In the case of an allegation of rape, the police will have already have put in services to support the complainant.  It is commonly cited that every allegation must be believed.  Amongst other things, the police are monitored for the number of allegations that go to trial, and admonished when this is insufficient.  They are not on your side.  At the point of your interview or arrest, they will probably act as if they are on the side of your accuser.

  • Interview your potential solicitors like you’re going to offer them a job.  That’s exactly what you’re about to do.   Find out what their previous experience has been with cases such as this.  How many have they seen in the last 5 years?  How many do they have on their books at the moment?  How many of their clients went to trial?  How many of those were acquitted?  Do not choose the lawyer you like the best.  Choose the one who gives you the crispest, most concise advice.  Preferably one with a good reputation, if you’ve got a few hours to do some research.

  • Your new lawyer may charge £300/hr, maybe more.  Do not use them as your friend.  Do not use them as your counsellor.  Unless you’re very wealthy indeed, that will soon push you into financial difficulties as well as the hell you will be experiencing from being the subject of an allegation.  Your legal fees will mount up and regardless of whether you are put on trial, you will spend £10,000 – £100,000 in just 30-300 hours of their work.  That could easily amount to your life’s savings or much of the equity in your home.  Right now, that price is what it will cost to keep your name out of the papers, to keep you out of court, to keep you out of jail, to keep you working, and keep the roof over your family’s head.  Money well spent.

 

If you have already spoken with the authorities about these allegations, don’t worry.  It’s water under the bridge now.  They caught you without a lawyer, and appealed to your natural wish to clear your name immediately and have them go away.  Be very clear about what you have said to them however.  If you didn’t have someone taking notes when you were there, write down everything they accused you of, or questioned you about.  Write down your responses to them in as much detail as you can remember.  Do it now before you forget.