At my last count, I’ve represented over 1,200 people who have been in trouble with the police. In that time, I’ve managed to compile a helpful list of 8 things you should never do if you find yourself under arrest. Whatever offence you find yourself under arrest for – whether it is shoplifting or murder – you should always remember the following:
1. DON’T TALK
I can’t stress this enough. DO NOT SAY ANYTHING to the police until you have spoken to a criminal defence solicitor. Although you might think you can talk your way out of trouble or explain yourself, more often than not you will end up doing further damage. I have lost count of the number of clients who have irreparably damaged their case by making silly remarks or admissions at the point of arrest. “It’s my friend’s cannabis officer, I was going to give it back to them” sounds innocent, but say this to the police and you’re admitting to being a drug dealer. Sounds complicated? It is.
There is no such thing as an “off the record” chat to a police officer and anything you say will either be recorded on the officer’s bodycamera or in their pocket notebook. If you’ve been arrested – reserve any comments you want to make until after you’ve consulted with a lawyer. Don’t say anything in custody suite either – the entire area is being audio recorded (including your phone calls). Remember – anything you say may be given in evidence!
2. DON’T RESIST ARREST
If a police officer has taken the decision to arrest you, then you’re going to be taken to a police station and likely booked into custody. Accept it. Shouting, swearing, attempting to run or resist will get you nowhere. It is a criminal offence to obstruct or resist a police officer in the execution of their duty and the offence carries a possible prison sentence. Don’t make things worse.
3. DON’T PANIC
If you’ve never been arrested before, it can be an extremely frightening experience. The entire process of being handcuffed, taken to a station, booked in and thrown in a cell can frighten and disorientate you. This is normal. Remember – being arrested DOES NOT mean you are guilty and does not mean you are automatically going to be sent to prison. Take a deep breath and tell the custody sergeant that you want to speak to Bhatia Best.
4. DON’T REFUSE A SOLICITOR
This is perhaps the most important point of the list. MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS – I REPEAT, ALWAYS – GET A LAWYER. Tell the police you want Bhatia Best. NEVER agree to be interviewed without a criminal lawyer. Some common myths are:
- “It’ll take longer if you have a solicitor” – NOT TRUE. Our lawyers are never more than a few minutes away from the police station.
- “Solicitors are expensive” – NOT TRUE. Legal advice and representation at the police station is FREE OF CHARGE for everyone detained by the police.
- “This other firm are already at the station, have them instead of Bhatia Best” – NEVER accept a recommendation from the police as to what lawyer you should instruct.
- “I don’t need a solicitor because I’ve done nothing wrong” – WRONG. You have been arrested and are now in a police station – that means the police think you have done something wrong – and they will try and prove it. Asking for a solicitor does not make you “look guilty” – it is your right!
5. DON’T BE RUDE, AGGRESSIVE OR VIOLENT
Being arrested and taken to a police station is stressful. That’s understandable. But once at the station, you’re in their house. Being rude, aggressive or violent will accomplish nothing. You’ll likely be stuck in a cell for hours and bored out of your mind. The custody staff will treat you with the same level of respect you show them. Additionally, if you are violent, you risk picking up a charge of assault – an offence which carries a prison sentence.
6. DON’T DISCLOSE YOUR PHONE PIN BEFORE GETTING ADVICE
If you are asked to hand over the PIN or passcode to your mobile phone or computer – DON’T. The law says you don’t have to unless the police pursue formal proceedings under the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act 2000. This is unlikely to be the case at the outset of a police investigation. If in doubt, SPEAK TO A CRIMINAL DEFENCE LAWYER.
7. DON’T PROVIDE INTIMATE SAMPLES BEFORE GETTING ADVICE
The police have the legal power to take certain non-intimate samples such as fingerprints, hand swabs and your hair. They can do this by force and you should always agree to this. However, they may ask you if they can take intimate samples (such as pubic hair or swabs of your genitals). They need your consent to do this and you should NEVER AGREE until you have first spoken to a solicitor.
8. DON’T FORGET YOUR RIGHTS
The custody officer will explain your rights to you when authorising your detention. You have a number of rights whilst in police custody, but the most important ones are:
- The right to free, independent legal advice
- The right to have someone told where you are
- The right to have medical assistance if you are ill or injured
- The right to consult the “Codes of Practice” (a book telling you about your rights whilst in custody)
- The right to an Appropriate Adult if you are a youth or a vulnerable adult
This helpful list aims to provide you with generic guidance and should not be a substitute for taking formal legal advice from a criminal solicitor. Always ask to speak to Bhatia Best if you are at a police station. Our criminal defence lawyers can be contacted 24/7 on 0333 016 3333.