If you have recently been reported to the police or social services for allegations of a sexual nature, but have not yet been arrested or interviewed, there are some things you must do now to help your chances of a fair and impartial investigation. If you’ve already been interviewed and didn’t know the information below, then don’t worry. Most of us found ourselves in that position when the police came crashing into our lives.
If someone close to you had been raped or sexually assaulted, you’d want the police to do a thorough job of their investigation. That is how the police see you now: you are their prime suspect. The only way they can decide how far to take the allegation is to investigate, and that will take time: a long time.
If you are facing arrest, or you are about to ‘help the police with their enquiries’, or provide an ‘interview under caution here as some useful suggestions. ‘Please note, that our guidance below does not constitute legal advice. It is also only applicable to people being investigated in England and Wales. Accused.me.uk accepts no liability whatsoever for the any problems that may arise in your case from following the guidance below. Along with any information on this site, should you read on and act upon it without taking legal advice first you do so at your own risk.
Having said this if you do need legal advice (and we strongly recommend you get some) then visit our Legal Advice resource pages where we will try and guide you to the appropriate places based on your situation and location.
Get yourself a solicitor NOW
If you have been “invited” to an interview or fear that an arrest is imminent then you need to contact a solicitor immediately. Let them know what is going on and keep their name and 24 hour phone number on you at all times.
If you find yourself arrested without the details of the solicitor on you or you are unable to recall their name to the custody sergeant you must NOT decline the duty solicitor. It is FREE OF CHARGE for the purposes of interview.
The police may try and use tactics to try and convince you not to have legal representation. “it will slow down the process”, “you will be hear for longer than you need to be”, “we just need you to help with our enquiries”, “it’s just a friendly chat”. These are all methods they will try and use to convince you into the interview room alone. Resist the temptation, be protected. IT IS FREE. Why would you not protect yourself?
In our Legal help section you will find details of our recommended solicitors across the country. They have not been randomly chosen but carefully chosen for their abilities and record of dealing with allegations such as these. In addition ALL out recommended solicitors operate the legal aid scheme and as such most people will qualify for free or reduced cost representation. It is important for you to understand that legal aid operates only during police interviews and then after charge. Sadly, there is no legal aid available for the limbo state in between.
If you haven’t yet been interviewed, and don’t already have a good criminal lawyer, then get yourself one before you speak with the police or social services. Nonetheless, you should confirm that you’re willing to help them. “I am very happy to help you, officer, and am happy to set a date to meet with you, but I want to do that with my own lawyer“. If you’ve been interviewed without a lawyer, then go and get yourself one. Check our suggested solicitors or try the Criminal Law Association. Alternatively, try the Law Society. Make sure that whoever you choose gives you someone who can attend the interview with you. If they don’t offer that, try somewhere else.
We entirely appreciate the desire to clear your name at the earliest opportunity, but if you talk freely to the police without a lawyer present, and without composing yourself, the only thing you are likely to do is to help the police gather evidence against you. Most people who are caught out this way ramble and say things in a manner that they then regret.
Be very careful when you talk to the police in any way whatsoever
It is very tempting to declare your innocence by telling the police your whole story early on, before you’ve had a chance to get important facts straight and consistent in your own mind. This is exactly what the police want you to do. Resist any pressure they apply to you to make you talk. They will try all the stuff you’ve seen on TV – threats, good cop / bad cop, offering you an easier time if you co-operate and so on. They might just say that it’s your opportunity to ‘clear your name’, but they mean exactly the opposite. It’s your opportunity to help them frame you as your accuser intended.
All of this means no friendly chats in your cell with the friendly investigating officer who says he knows that your accuser is lying. No informal words in the back of the car when you’re being driven away after arrest. Nothing. Like they say when they arrest you, anything you say can be used against you. Wait until you are booked in at the police station and have had a conference with your solicitor (your chosen solicitor or duty solicitor). Say nothing to the police except to confirm your identity.
The scales of justice
If you’ve never been involved with the police and believe that they are there to help you, this is not what happens now. This is not reporting a burglary at your home. You are the subject of an allegation, and the police are there to investigate you. Should they find evidence against you, their job is to present this in court.
It follows from the above, that the police are not there to investigate your defence case. Remember the scales of justice? Evidence for the allegation is the police’s job. Evidence against is your defence team’s job. Of course the police may come across evidence in your favour along the way, and that may well influence the Crown Prosecution Service’s wish to put you on trial, but primarily, it’s not what they are there to investigate.
The police interview
When you are interviewed, remember to take along your lawyer, or request the duty solicitor (duty solicitors are free for voluntary interviews also). It is only through the questions that the police will put to you that you will learn anything about what you have been accused of. The police are under no obligation to tell you anything, and they will typically want to keep you in the dark. Unless you are re-interviewed, you may learn nothing else for many months before you are charged or your case is marked for ‘no further action’ (NFA). The notes taken by your solicitor in interview are often the only things you have to work with (and there will be work you need to do) in the period between arrest and charging decision.
Police officers are trained to interview you and will be looking to find inconsistencies with your memories. You will be in a highly stressful situation, discussing events that might have occurred years ago, and it will be all too easy to find that you have inadvertently given them evidence against you, rather than explaining your case well. Take time with your lawyer to prepare what it is you really want to explain to the police, if indeed you talk with them at all.
Your lawyer may advise you to do a “no comment” interview. You may feel awkward answering “no comment” to completely reasonable questions from the police, when you just want to put your side of the case. But it may be sound legal advice that you play the interview this way. Check with your lawyer.
Your lawyer may also advise you to answer all questions put to you by the police. It is their job in interview to interrupt if the police are asking you anything improper.
Another option the lawyer may recommend is to make a no comment interview but then to make a prepared reply at the end. It may be that you do a no comment interview and then step out of the interview with your lawyer to prepare this statement. It’s all normal and you will need to be guided by your lawyer based on the exact circumstances of your case.
Services to support you
In the case of an allegation of rape, the police will have already have put in services to support the complainant – victim support, rape crisis and so on. It is a complete hypocrisy that the criminal that has made a lie up about you is offered these services whilst you are not, but you’ll have to put up with it. It is commonly cited that every allegation must be believed. Amongst other things, the police are monitored for the number of allegations that go to trial, and admonished when this is insufficient. They are not on your side. At the point of your interview or arrest, they will probably act as if they are on the side of your accuser.
We can support you in our Facebook group. Be sure to come over there where our group members all look after each other.
If you’ve already spoken with the police or social services
If you have already spoken with the authorities about these allegations, don’t worry. It’s water under the bridge now. They caught you without a lawyer, and appealed to your natural wish to clear your name immediately and have them go away. Be very clear about what you have said to them however. If you didn’t have someone taking notes when you were there, write down everything they accused you of, or questioned you about. Write down your responses to them in as much detail as you can remember. Do it now before you forget.
Your false accuser is guaranteed lifelong anonymity by law in the UK. You must not therefore post anything on any social media that could help anyone else identify them. If you breach this principle, it will just be another crime the police can charge you with. On the other hand, your accuser or any of their friends can name you in connection with an allegation – e.g. they might post something to the effect that you have been arrested without revealing that it was their accusation that caused this. This act might very well cause you to feel harassed. It might libel you. In that event, you would be able to report the matter to the police yourself. Do not allow yourself to be drawn or taunted into a situation where you disclose their identify in any public forum – just report any abuse of you to the police. You may however communicate privately with others about the matter, ensuring that you do not “publish material” that “members of the public” might use to identify your alleged victim. For example, nine people tweeted the name of the footballer Ched Evan’s accuser. They were charged with publishing material likely lead members of the public to identify the complainant in a rape case, contrary to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, and fined.