Here at Forrest Williams, we are criminal defence lawyers for police investigation stage work. We appreciate that being subject to a criminal investigation can be very distressing and burdensome despite the fact that criminal charges have not been formally issued. In some cases, your contact with immediate family is limited, your electronic devices could be seized, reporting to work could be a challenge, travel plans may be negatively impacted, and your life just seems to have come to a sudden halt pending the outcome of an investigation.
We understand that you may want support during this period; someone who is in your corner to show they genuinely care and are working in your best interests. You are in very safe hands with Forrest Williams. We take a proactive approach in cases like this.
If you have been accused of a criminal offence but have not yet been charged, it is crucial that you seek legal advice and explore all potential avenues available to you before the police conclude their investigations.
Among other advantages, effective pre-charge engagement gives you an opportunity to provide your point of view, subsequently preventing a weak case from going to court.
WHAT IS PRE-CHARGE ENGAGEMENT?
This is a voluntary engagement between all parties (i.e., the police, the Crown prosecution Service (CPS), defence solicitors and you) during an investigation after the first police interview but before a decision is made as to whether you should be formally charged with an offence.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES PRE-CHARGE ENGAGEMENT ENTAIL?
For proactive firms like Forrest Williams, our investigative stage work can include:
- Identifying further lines of enquiry not yet explored;
- An opportunity to comment on proposed lines of enquiry relating to the investigation;
- Allowing you to provide relevant digital material that has a bearing on the allegation;
- Identifying/ suggesting any potential witnesses in the matter and taking full witness statements;
- Discussing ways to overcome barriers to obtaining potential evidence such as revealing PINs, passwords and encryption keys on devices or files;
- Obtaining your consent to access medical records;
- Clarifying whether expert or forensic evidence is agreed and if not having your defence solicitors, instruct an expert who could provide evidence to bolster your response on the issues underlying the investigation.
The above is not an exhaustive list and Forrest Williams prepare a case strategy for every case separately.
WHO CAN INITIATE PRE-CHARGE ENGAGEMENT AND WHEN?
Either of the parties to an investigation can initiate the process. Therefore, it could be the officer in charge of the investigation, the prosecutor, or your legal representatives who do this.
This work can commence immediately after your interview.
A no comment interview also does not preclude the possibility of pre-charge engagement.
Whilst this work is encouraged it should be noted that it is not appropriate in all cases. It is therefore prudent that you seek legal advice before opting for this to maximise your chances of fully benefiting from this process.
IS IT MANDATORY TO ENGAGE IN PRE-CHARGE ENGAGEMENT?
The simple answer to this question is no. It is important to note that this work is a voluntary process and can be terminated at any time. Should you decide not to engage in this work you will not be penalised for your actions. No inference can be drawn from a failure to participate in this work during proceedings at a later stage. However, there are a number of potential benefits.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PRE-CHARGE ENGAGEMENT TO YOU?
- Pre-charge engagement can help form the prosecutor’s charging decision which could lead to proceedings being dropped early or dealt with by way of an out of court disposal;
- It gives you an opportunity to maintain your innocence through early identification of lines of enquiry revealing evidence or material that points away from you and / or towards another suspect;
- Issues in dispute will be narrowed ensuring that unnecessary inquiries are not pursued;
- An early resolution of matters in dispute helps reduce the anxiety and uncertainty for you.
- This work could be economical in terms of saving cost and time – it is less expensive to have pre-charge engagement work done than to have to pay for a trial.
WON’T THE DUTY SOLICITOR DO THIS WORK AS PART OF THEIR JOB?
The duty solicitor scheme allows Legal Aid lawyers to represent people in police interviews free of charge. It does not cover any work before or after the interview. If you had a duty solicitor represent you for a police interview, they will not be working on the file afterwards and as they will be used to Legal Aid work rather than private work, they will not be experienced in undertaking pre-charge engagement work.
HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?
Here at Forrest Williams, we are criminal defence lawyers for police investigation stage work.
We were the very first adopters of this strategy before it was officially recognised. We understood that clients who were not familiar with the criminal justice system did not want to just wait and see what the police outcome was. They wanted to be proactive. You probably do too.
When we first started making representations we were told by police forces around the country that they had never seen this approach before, now over 10 years later it has been formalised. We are confident that we have more experience in this area than any other firm.
We will work with you to adopt an efficient proactive strategy and where appropriate we can engage with the police to help secure the best outcome for you. Do not suffer in silence during this period of limbo.
Forrest Williams Are Criminal Defence Lawyers For Police Investigation Work.
Contact our office on 01623 397200 and a member of our team will be happy to help.