So you’ve been arrested? Or perhaps you’ve been interviewed under caution? It is important to note that you do not have to be arrested to be interviewed. Where a “voluntary interview” will achieve the aims of the police they should not arrest you. Remember though free representation is still available (and should be offered if you didn’t take your own) at a “voluntary interview”.
You may well have had your DNA taken, been fingerprinted, and will quite possibly now be subject to bail conditions. This is for many people a new, degrading and foreign experience.
Unless the CPS authorises it, you may be placed on bail for a maximum of 28 days. That does not mean that the investigation into you will be concluded in this time: far from it. It may well still take many months or even years before you know whether you will be charged, or your case marked for no further action (NFA). The wheels turn slowly with the police as they are inundated with allegations of a sexual nature.
If the CPS does direct that you should be kept on bail for longer period, you may well be asked to answer bail at the police station every few weeks or months. It is common for investigations into rape and sexual assault to take a long time before a decision is made about charging, especially if the allegations are historical, and there is no DNA evidence.
There are several outcomes at that time. First, if you are lucky, the police will consider that the allegation is of insufficient weight to warrant a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Your case will be NFA’d – marked for no further action. Alternatively, you will be informed that the evidence they have found against you has been passed to the CPS for consideration as to whether the police should charge you. This decision will cause more delay and uncertainty. After some more time, the CPS will recommend whether the police should charge you. If you are charged, you will receive a date for your first court apperance. Only then will you find out fully what has been said against you by your accuser, and your defence team can kick in to try to discredit their stories. By this stage if you didn’t As with all information on this site, the following is not legal advice, and if you read it or act upon it, you do so at your own risk.
If you are subject to bail conditions, then be careful not to do anything that could be construed as a breach. If you are told not to go to the street where your complainant lives, then do not go anywhere close. If you do, and the police are being obtuse, you could suddenly find that you are placed on remand.
Contacting the complainant
Even if you share children in common, or you have other pressing business with the complainant, then you should find another way to contact them. Contact them via a friend. If you can afford it, go via your solicitor. If you don’t, you could find yourself facing an allegation of perverting the course of justice if anything you say is misconstrued as an attempt to persuade them to retract their allegation. Unless you record every interaction with them, this could be a difficult thing to disprove. They’ve already alleged that you raped or sexually assaulted them and if you know you’re innocent, then this is a lie. It is not too difficult to wonder that they might say you said other things that you didn’t.
Contacting people connected to the complainant
It is quite possible that the police will be interviewing the complainant’s friends and potential witnesses. They may have heard them making their allegation about you. Even if you do not know who these people are, you should assume that anyone connected with the complainant could be a potential witness for the police. Merely attempting to contact these people could be taken as an attempt to interfere with the police investigation. This could be considered an attempt to pervert the course of justice, and put you at risk of re-arrest. It will not look good if your case comes to trial.