What to expect when you attend voluntarily for interview at the police station
If you are asked to attend the police station voluntarily, you are normally given notice of this by the police.
You are not entitled to legal aid in advance of an attendance at the police station. You are only entitled to the services of a duty lawyer from the point at which you arrive at the station. The police will make arrangements for the duty lawyer to give you advice over the telephone. Afterwards, depending on your means, you may be entitled to legal aid after charge.
If however you wish to be represented by a lawyer of your choosing, the notice you are given enables you to discuss beforehand what your approach to the interview should be. If you decide to do this in advance of your attendance at the police station, then it will be at your cost. If your lawyer is unable to make the time of the interview at the police station, then the lawyer is usually able to arrange a mutually convenient alternative.
Many people find it useful to meet with their lawyer before the attendance at the police station. The lawyer will obtain pre-interview disclosure and therefore should be in a position to provide you with detail of the allegation against you. How much information they obtain depends on how much the police are willing to give. The lawyer will be able to find out about the allegation from you and explain your rights and together, you will be able to decide on a course of action.
You have the option at interview to answer questions or give “no comment” responses.
Answering “no comment” means that you are reserving your position until you have seen the evidence against you.
In Jersey, if a person exercises his right to give no comment answers at interview, a jury is not entitled to draw a negative inference from that fact at trial. The position is different in England and Wales
This is known as the right to silence, which still exists in Jersey, at least for the time being.
Although this is the general position, it is worth knowing that there are some specific exceptions to this general rule and these are set out in different statutes. In some cases, you are obliged by law to answer questions and in some cases it is a criminal offence not to give information – for example, it is an offence not to give the name of the driver in a road traffic case, on being asked for it by an officer.
Occasionally, a person who attends voluntarily at the police station may be arrested once there, but this rarely happens. Unless someone is under arrest, then they are entitled to leave the police station at any time and this should be made clear.
Interviews are digitally recorded by the police. Normally they are simply audio recorded, but there is the possibility that you will be visually recorded as well. You will be made aware of this at the start of the interview if it happens.
Anything you say to a police officer, even outside of an interview, may be noted down and used in evidence against you. You should be cautioned before this is done, but if you make a comment prior to being cautioned, then the fact that you have not yet been cautioned will not necessarily stop the evidence from being relied on.
If you decide to give no comment responses to an interview, then the police are nevertheless entitled to continue to question you.
As well as being interviewed, you may be asked to provide other evidence. This evidence might come from a number of other sources and the following examples are not intended to be exhaustive. You might be asked to provide documentary or photographic evidence, access to your telephone, passwords, forensic samples.
You are entitled to legal advice about all of these points, not simply about the approach to take in the interview. It is important to consider all this carefully, because decisions you make can have an impact on your case as a whole. For instance, if you elect not to give an intimate sample, then it can, in an appropriate situation be the subject of a negative inference at trial.
If you have any questions about this, please contact Rebecca Morley-Kirk on 01534 888666 or Rebecca.Morley-Kirk@viberts.com.