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What Are Your Rights When You Get Arrested?

Date: (24 August 2011)    |    

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Duncan Lewis:I, who will discuss your situation and your rights with you. A solicitor should always be present when you make any statement to the police. One of your rights is to have access to a solicitor, and there are duty solicitors funded by the government who can be brought to the police station where you are being detained to consult with you.

When you are arrested, the police are required by law to read your rights to you in the following wording: "You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence." This is the wording in England and Wales; in Northern Ireland and in Scotland the wording is slightly different, but has the same purport.

The length of time that you can be detained in custody under normal circumstances is no longer than 24 hours, although in cases where a very serious offence has been committed this may be extended. A magistrate’s permission will need to be granted to the police if they think it appropriate to detain you for more than 24 hours.

It is important to remember when you are arrested that you do not have to make any comment concerning the offence that you are being accused of, and that there is no need to feel intimidated by the police into answering questions of any sort concerning the offence before you speak to the duty solicitor. You are entitled to legal representation under the law, and even if you feel unexpectedly comfortable in the company of the police and feel like opening up and chatting to them, you shouldn’t do it and should instead wait until your legal representative arrives and advises you on what you should and shouldn’t say to them. There is no such thing as an off the record chat with law enforcement officers, and anything that slips out could, as they warned when they arrested you, be taken down and used against you in court if matters lead there.

You have a number of rights when you are arrested. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. You have the right to see a printed list of your rights, and you also have the right to converse with the duty officer who is responsible for overseeing your welfare whilst you are being detained. The police must tell you why you have been arrested and let you contact someone about it having happened, as well as letting you have a private consultation with a solicitor. Part of a crime solicitor’s job is to advise arrestees of their legal rights while they are being detained at the police station.