Been arrested for a criminal act in the UK? A guide to the legal advice you are entitled to

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If you have been arrested and are awaiting a police interview, it can be extremely unnerving.

While you may think it is an indication of guilt, seeking legal advice is going to make the entire process much smoother. If you know you’ve done nothing wrong, it may seem logical to simply deny any accusation passionately in any interviews in the hope that you will be released. But there are many things that police officers will look for in these interviews, so even a seemingly innocent statement can be taken out of context!

So when you are told to use that phone call, contact a criminal solicitor. It is their job to represent you and, come day or night, they will be on call 24 hours a day to offer you advice.

But what advice are you legally entitled to at a police station in the UK? Read on to find out.

Questions with or without legal advice

In more minor criminal cases, you cannot be questioned by the police without a criminal solicitor present.

However, if you have been arrested for a more serious offence, like terrorism, the police can legally detain and question you for up to 36 hours before you can receive legal advice.

If you are about to be interviewed, your solicitor can overlook your case and advise you on what to say for each question you are asked. They can sit in the interview with you, and offer you guidance on which questions to answer and which ones to not comment on. While these may seem completely random, a criminal solicitor will know the drill of a police interview.


Your solicitor will also be able to advise you on how long the police can detain you for.

In the majority of criminal cases, this period is up to 24 hours at which time they are required to either release you or charge you with a crime.

If you have been arrested for a more serious crime, the police will usually apply to have this period extended to either 36 or 96 hours. Under the terrorism act, you can be held without charge at a police station for 14 days.



A solicitor will always liaise with the police to have you released as early as possible (except in cases of murder or terrorism).

They will also advise you on the likelihood of you being released with or without bail. If you are released on bail, there will be conditions which you have to adhere to in the period leading up to your trial. Once again, they will discuss these with the police and negotiate a set of conditions which they deem to be appropriate for the crime.

Court or not?

As you sit in the cell awaiting the arrival of your solicitor, you may be worried about attending court. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the likelihood of your case going to court, and if so, which court is the most likely.

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