The benefits of Pre-Charge Engagement
A decision to charge can only happen once the police have gathered enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. Often, your arrest and / or interview is only one part of an investigation that has multiple lines of enquiry. In practical terms, if you have been released after and arrest and interview in the police station, or are under investigation as a volunteer, this means that there could be a delay while the police continue to investigate.
It can feel like not much is happening during this period. Pre-charge engagement can be the solution to this problem. It is the process by which your criminal defence lawyer liaises with the police or the Crown Prosecution Service (‘CPS’) to help move your case along. This can be done in several ways, although it will commonly involve identifying to the police other potential lines of enquiry for them to follow – for example witness testimony or documents that ought to be obtained.
The benefits of pre-charge engagement are that it can speed up the police investigation, particularly where you can help them identify exculpatory evidence. It also allows you to lay the groundwork for your defence before a charging decision has even been made.
We have successfully used pre-charge engagement in several cases recently. In the case of one client, a Local Authority contractor being accused of fraud by failure to disclose information, we identified several documents and a potential witness for the investigator to consider and we accompanied this with legal representations. Having seen this evidence, the Local Authority made the decision to take no further action. The investigation involved a fair amount of detail, but this positive outcome was achieved within a few months. Rather than incurring the cost and stress of defending the case in Court proceedings, our client was able to get on with life without ever being prosecuted, or named, in any criminal proceedings. In this way, engaging with the investigator pre-charge can also have a real benefit in the reputational sense.
Clearly, each case is different. The wisdom of providing the police with information will be dependent on the specific facts of your case. Having expert legal advice on the evidence in your case will be crucial to making the right decisio
If would like to discuss matters with one of our specialist lawyers, please contact our Crime and Regulatory Department on 020 7632 4300.