What sets Olliers apart from many criminal defence firms is the proactive approach we adopt during a criminal investigation. We understand the stress and anxiety a criminal investigation can cause. The work we undertake for clients during this stage of the criminal process goes way beyond a police station attendance. Prior to and following an interview under caution, our team will do everything it can to keep to a minimum the likelihood of a client under investigation being charged with a criminal offence.
The police want to speak to me. What should I do?
Meticulous preparation for a police interview is crucial. There are now greater opportunities to prepare for voluntary interviews because prior notice of the interview is given and disclosure of a summary of the allegations can be provided to the defence. We will advise as to the best way of dealing with the interview whether in the form of a ‘no comment’ interview, through the use of a ‘prepared statement’ or with our client answering all questions.
I have been released under investigation. What happens next?
Following an interview, we will look to take stock and consider all questions put to our client. This involves considering whether points not dealt with by our client in interview can be addressed in the pre-charge stage. Much is said of ‘representations against charge’. Indeed, we have published a number of features on the subject. Whilst many firms adopt a passive approach to this stage, we do not.
What can Olliers do to prevent a prosecution?
We may not always be able to make formal representations against charge; however we will always look to provide the police or other investigators with sufficient material so as to prevent our client being charged. This may involve drawing their attention to material that supports the defence case, including the following:-
- Texts, emails and other electronic communication
- Social media activity
- Enquiries into CCTV
- Internet and other research
- Medical evidence
- Preparation of timelines and chronologies supportive of the defence
- Tracking down and speaking to witnesses who will support the defence case and subsequently invite the police to speak to these individuals.
On occasions we may draw to the attention of investigators information that sheds light on why a complaint has been made.
Case study one
21-year-old male of good character faced allegation of date rape in which complainant claimed to have been unconscious for ten hours. Olliers were able to prove social media activity throughout the night and downloading of an app together with text activity from the alleged victim the following day. Olliers also provided police with details of flatmate who witnessed sexual activity. Police were also provided with a motive for the fabricated complaint. Following representations to the police, matter came to a swift conclusion without even going to the Crown Prosecution Service for a charging decision.
Case study two
Young man faced allegation of sexual assault in nightclub. It was suggested that he had assaulted a complete stranger without any earlier interaction. Olliers were able to show that alleged victim had in fact connected with the suspect on WhatsApp at the time of the incident which would have been impossible on her version of events. Olliers were also able to show that complainant’s boyfriend had unexpectedly arrived in the nightclub which gave an explanation and motive for the false allegation. No charges were brought.
Case study three
Client faced allegation of historic rape based upon one incident thirty years earlier. Olliers were able to produce to the police a poem sent to the defendant by the complainant ten years previously i.e. twenty years after the alleged incident in which she admitted to her infatuation with the suspect at the time of the incident. Representations were made including a defence explanation for the allegations being made. Crown Prosecution Service took the view that there was not a realistic prospect of conviction and no charges were brought.
How do the CPS make the decision to charge someone with an offence?
Throughout an investigation, at the forefront of our minds is the Code for Crown Prosecutors, particularly the ‘charging standard’. A prosecution should only be brought if there is a ‘realistic prospect of conviction’ and it is in the public interest to prosecute. We never lose sight of this during dialogue with investigators and when making representations to either the police or other prosecuting authority.
We rarely encounter hostility from investigators; generally they welcome a proactive approach and so they should. The 2018 Code for Crown Prosecutors and relevant sections of the Attorney General’s ‘Review of the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Disclosure in the Criminal Justice System’ both make it clear that there should be greater defence involvement in this stage of the process. Click here to read more.
For further information in relation to the investigative pre-charge stage of a criminal investigation see the following articles.
- Pre-charge representations
- Representations against charge
- Voluntary police interviews
- Voluntary police interviews – do I need a solicitor?
If you would like to discuss how we can proactively assist you in relation to your case at a pre-charge stage, contact Matthew Claughton by telephone on 0161 8277010, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or Laura Baumanis by telephone on 0161 8341515, by email to email@example.com click here to send us a message.