Criminal Investigation Solicitors
Finding out that you are the subject of a criminal investigation can turn your life upside down. We understand that it can be an incredibly stressful time, especially as ultimately a conviction can impact your life and your ability to work in certain professions, so it’s crucial that you get expert help as soon as possible.
Draycott Browne are one of the UK’s leading criminal defence firms with an outstanding track record of helping people facing criminal investigation. Our solicitors will work for you to make sure that your rights are protected.
I’m being investigated – what do I do?
There are undoubtedly many questions that you will have if you are being investigated by the police; you will want to know what is happening, why you are being investigated, what should you do, and do you need a solicitor? You may have received a call from the police asking you to come in for questioning, or perhaps the first you knew of the investigation was when you were unexpectedly arrested.
In addition to the police, you can also be investigated by:
- Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – if they suspect criminal activity such as VAT fraud or tax evasion.
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – the majority of cases that they investigate involve fraud, for example by false representation or failure to disclose information.
- Trading Standards – this is the local government department who will investigate complaints of breaches of legislation, or suspicion of illegal trading practices.
- The Environment Agency - will investigate if you are suspected of having breached any aspect of Environmental Law.
Draycott Browne regularly work with all of these agencies and can provide you with first class legal representation if you find yourself the subject of an investigation.
What happens if I am arrested?
If you have been arrested, the arresting officer must have told you at the time:
- that they were the police
- that you were being arrested
- what crime they think you’ve committed
- why arresting you was necessary
- that you were not free to leave.
If you are under 18, you should only be arrested at school if it is unavoidable, and your headteacher must be informed.
Following your arrest, you will usually be taken to a police station and held until you can be interviewed. Whilst in custody you have the right to:
- free legal advice
- tell someone where you are
- medical help if necessary.
What if I’m asked to attend an interview with the police voluntarily?
The police may have contacted you to request a voluntary interview – this could be at a police station, or it could be at your home or workplace. Whilst this might seem less formal than being arrested and interviewed, it is strongly recommended that you contact a solicitor at this stage, as preparation is key.
A solicitor will clarify the details of the interview and will establish why they are asking for a voluntary interview, rather than arresting you. They will also want to know what the allegations are and will take instruction from you based on the information from the police.
A good solicitor will be able to explain the situation and its implications to you, and will work with your best interests throughout, advising you on how to best respond to questioning.
It is vital that you take advice both before and during any interview, as what you say will be recorded and may form the basis of any investigations going forward.
Is a voluntary interview preferable?
Other than avoiding being held in custody prior to your interview, there aren’t many advantages to being voluntarily interviewed. A voluntary interview is not subject to the same regulations as a formal interview, and often you may not be updated as to whether the case is being taken further, but it will still be recorded and may be used as evidence in the future, so having a proactive solicitor is highly recommended.
They will be able to push the police for information on the case and will make sure that you are fully informed, rather than being left in limbo waiting for news.
What happens after an interview?
After your interview, one of the following will happen:
- you will be released, and the police will take no further action
- you may be released under investigation
- you will be detained in custody
- you will be charged with an offence
If you are released either with no further action, or under investigation you should be aware that you can be re-arrested at any time. If you are charged you will either be released on bail or kept in custody until the date of your court hearing.
I’ve been released under investigation – what happens now?
If you have been released under investigation, then the police will continue to investigate the allegations against you. It can be difficult to get on with life as normal while the investigation is ongoing, not knowing how long the investigation may take, and whether you will end up being charged. Our solicitors will be proactive in supporting you and will do everything they can to keep you informed as the investigation progresses.
How long will an investigation take?
If you are being investigated by the police, the interview is just one part of the investigation. In reality the police were probably making enquiries before the interview and will continue to do so until they are satisfied that a there is enough evidence to support a prosecution. It is possible that you will be interviewed multiple times, if the police feel that it is necessary.
All cases vary, but many investigations can take a significant amount of time, and it can be frustrating to feel like you don’t know what is happening. A solicitor can help you by liaising with the police and nudging the case along where necessary, keeping you informed along the way.
The police may ask you to provide information to them to assist in their investigations, such as access to your mobile phone or computer, medical records or other sources.
You should always take advice from someone with your rights as their priority before complying with requests like these. When the police have enough evidence, they will refer the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) so that they can decide whether to bring charges.
What is the role of the CPS in investigations?
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is an independent body who decide whether to prosecute criminal cases based on the investigations by the police and other organisations such as the DWP, the HMRC, Trading Standards and the Environment Agency.
When making the decision to try a case, the CPS are bound by the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which outlines the principles they must follow. The is based on the “Full Code Test” and has two stages:
- The evidential stage. This is the first stage of the decision; the CPS must evaluate the available evidence and its reliability. They must be satisfied that the evidence is sufficient to give a "realistic prospect of conviction”. They will also consider what your defence case is likely to be; having good representation and a lawyer who can build you a strong defence case can increase the likelihood of the CPS deciding not to prosecute. If the case does not pass the evidential stage, it will not go ahead.
- The public interest stage. If the case passes the evidential stage, the CPS will determine whether a prosecution is needed in the public interest. They will weigh up all the relevant factors and come to a conclusion – if they find on balance that a prosecution would be in the public interest, then the case has passed both stages of the test and the prosecution will go ahead.
Is it possible to prevent a prosecution from taking place?
Your best chance of avoiding prosecution is by ensuring that you have an excellent defence case supported by all the evidence there is available. Draycott Browne will do their utmost to collate any evidence that supports your case; we will gather any pertinent records and will identify and interview supporting witnesses where possible.
I’ve been charged – what happens now?
If you are charged with an offence, Draycott Browne offer some of the best legal representation in the UK.
- liaise with the relevant authorities
- gather supporting evidence
- prepare your defence
- represent you in court.
Early legal intervention can be the key to avoiding a prosecution; we are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of our clients and will work with you to build a formidable defence strategy.
The Criminal Investigation Lawyers at Draycott Browne, are widely recognised as one of the North of England's leading team of criminal defence lawyers with specialist criminal investigation expertise.
Contact us today by calling 0161 228 2244. If you would like us to contact you, simply fill in our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be in touch as soon as possible.
We are highly regarded nationally across the legal profession, and noted for consistently delivering positive results. Our team possess a breadth of technical knowledge and experience in criminal investigations and will provide you with the expertise needed throughout the process.
Our team regularly act for clients in London and throughout Midlands and of course the North West including clients from Birmingham and Liverpool. By entrusting us, you can be assured that you will be working with a team of highly skilled and experienced Criminal Defence Lawyers who have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the law.
Our legal team is available 7 days a week. For expert legal advice or representation, call Draycott Browne today on +44 (0)161 266 7086
When you are facing the stiffest challenge, you cannot afford to settle for anything less than Draycott Browne.