There are a couple of different reasons why you may need a defence solicitor. The first is if you find yourself arrested and taken to the police station to be interviewed for a criminal offence.
In this circumstance the following can apply:
- You must be offered legal representation by a firm of your choosing or the Duty Solicitor. The Police will arrange for your criminal solicitor to be contacted and for you to, at the very least speak, to them on the telephone.
- Representation in the police station for an interview under caution is free to each client as the Legal Aid Agency pays for this. This is not subject to any means testing.
- You could also instruct a solicitor through a third party, e.g. a member of your family or close friend. When they contact a firm on your behalf it is slightly more complicated but a solicitor will usually contact the Custody Sergeant and ask for you to confirm that you would like us to attend.
- In most instances a telephone call will take place and your solicitor will explain that they will attend when an interview time is arranged. We often ask you to give only yes and no answers at this point as the conversation is not private.
- It is important that you have a solicitor if you are going to be interviewed as they can gain information from the police about the evidence and advise you on that in relation to the law. It is also important that someone is making sure your rights are observed during the interview and that you are not treated badly.
You may alternatively find yourself having been interviewed without a solicitor or not interviewed at all and charged with a criminal offence, something which can happen via postal requisition. In this circumstance you should:
- Contact a firm of your choosing. Some have adverts or your local Citizens Advice or Job Centre may be able to point you in the direction of one. You can contact most solicitors via the telephone, in person or online.
- Whoever you speak to will take some details from you in relation to the offence and either arrange for a solicitor to contact you or ask you to come into the office.
- In some cases there will be a legal aid application and in others a solicitor may give you a quote to pay privately. Legal aid is based on lots of elements including the type of offence and what you earn.
- After this you must keep in contact with your solicitor throughout your case and inform them of any changes of address or contact details.