Part Two of My Solicitors' Guide
My surprise stems from the suggestion that solicitors need instruction. These worthy law school graduates (or sometimes untrained secretaries) are ready to fly to action at the beck and call of any arrested person and rarely require more than a rundown of salient facts by the police officer in charge. They then "consult" with their client before interview.
For budding solicitors, the consultation is vital if the interview is to go well:
Enter the room and before the client can open his/her mouth, the words "Let me tell you what the police know" should be leaving your lips. Then fill the client in on the police case.
Never ask, "So what happened?" This question should be phrased, "Let's talk about how we're going to tackle all that evidence." Now explain possible legal defences to the offence suspected, and ask a good many questions like: "Were you scared?" "Did you know this person or had you never seen them before in your life?" "Was it just meant as a joke?"
You can now gauge the next phase of advice on the responses given in Step Two. If the client did not twig which replies could lead to no charge, advise him/her not to comment. See here for a guide to when else to advise No Comment. At no stage should you receive "instructions" that you have not first given to the client.
Step Four: The Interview
Your role in interview is to advise your client when you feel he/she is about to trip him/herself up, and to answer the harder questions for him/her. If this starts to annoy the interviewing officer, you are doing your job well. If you can possibly slip in a comment about breaching PACE, do so. It may put the interviewer off. If not, it will still annoy them and is therefore a bonus.
I will describe the rest of the process in a later posting, but this is all you really need to know. Remember, the only purpose of a police interview is to get a confession so they can do a smaller file (if a guilty plea is expected, it involves half the number of forms, and they can send the originals in rather than copies which means they never have to see it again). The police do not really expect the interview to teach them anything, any more than you or your client do. So don't worry if they produce a watertight case that would convince anyone your client is lying. It will carry no weight in court anyway.
Also bear in mind that the British legal system works on the following premise:
If a man tells the truth about what he has done, he will be charged and locked up.
If he lies, we let him go.
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