The starting point of nearly all criminal cases is a police investigation. After an initial complaint is made, the police will begin to collect evidence and try to build a case against a suspect.
If you are the subject of a police investigation, the chances are you will only find out when they come to arrest you. Occasionally the police will get in touch with a suspect and ask them to attend the police station to talk about a complaint. With the best will in the world, this is a very misleading impression, and almost always means they want to carry out an interview under caution, not an informal chat!
An interview under caution can be the most significant part of a police investigation, or indeed the whole criminal case. Depending on what is said, or not said, the case against a suspect can be weakened to the point there is no realistic chance of being convicted. On the other hand, saying the wrong thing (even just a mistake on expressing yourself) can strengthen the case against you and make a conviction likely.
After an initial interview, if there are still ongoing enquiries, the police are likely to bail you. This means that you can be released from the police station but may have to return on another date for further questioning.
The most important fact about any police investigation is that you have the legal right to free and independent legal advice. That means you can have a solicitor or other specialist lawyer explain the evidence and allegation to you, and advise you on the possible consequences. This is funded by the legal aid system, so nobody has to pay for a specialist advice. Sometimes, a criminal lawyer can be the only person on your side, against the witnesses, the police, and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Once a police investigation has been finalised, they will decide whether to drop the case against you, or take the matter to court. This can be either by charging you or issuing a summons to appear before the local Magistrates Court.
This site is not designed to scare or cause any greater anxiety to anyone facing a police investigation. However, if you or someone you know are contacted by the police, it can make a massive difference to your case if you have free legal advice. Contact us if you need to find a dependable criminal defence specialist who can represent you at the police station.