Before police can question someone about their suspected involvement in an offence (be that following arrest or voluntary attendance) they must formally caution the suspect as follows: "You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned, something that you later rely on in Court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence". No matter where you are arrested be that in the street or at work, the police must caution you. Given the nature of the caution, it applies when the police want to question a suspect and not simply (for example) to conduct a stop and search. That being said it is entirely prudent to bear the words of caution in mind whenever you interact with the police as adverse comment may then be considered reasonable grounds for them to affect an arrest.
As discussed, the caution must be given when a suspect is arrested. Similarly, before conducting an interview the police must caution the suspect again. The caution must be given at these stages as it acts as a trigger for a variety of rights including perhaps the most important of all: the right to legal advice. A majority of individuals will have heard the caution in some capacity but what does it actually mean? Conveniently it can be broken down into three parts:
- You do not have to say anything. During your time at the police station, including at the interview, you do not need to answer the police's questions and may remain silent or answer 'no comment'. Occasionally the police may invite you to answer questions by saying that "advice is just advice" or "it's your interview", but the fact remains that you do not need to answer any of the police's questions.
- But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned, something that you later rely on in Court. Put simply if you do not answer questions at interview but later at trial come up with answers to the prosecution's questions, the Court may infer that your account is made up.
- Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Interviews are tape recorded and a transcript can be produced for the Court. Any difference between the account that you give at the police station and at Court may be to your detriment.
Whilst the second section of the caution specifically references interview, this does not mean that anything you say when being transported to the police station, are being booked in or even sitting in your cell will not be noted and used against you (see point three above). Really, when the caution is given to you it is your signal to say nothing about the case until you speak with a solicitor.
Saunders Law - Protecting & Enforcing Our Clients' Rights
We at Saunders have decades of experience advising suspects at the police station. Knowing what to say and when can make all the difference in how your case progresses. If you are under investigation by the police, call Saunders Law for an initial consultation.