Pre Charge Engagement Lawyers
With the aim to always avoid prosecution, our pre charge engagement lawyers will provide professional representation to the police or crown prosecution service.Get In Touch Today
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What Is Pre Charge Engagement?
Pre-charge engagement is a voluntary process between the prosecution and the defence who are party to a police investigation.
The initial engagement would take place precluding the first police (PACE) interview and before a charging decision is reached. It is a voluntary process that can be terminated at any time, and either party to the investigation can initiate pre-charge engagement.
The pre-charge engagement protocol has been in the news recently and is referenced in the Attorney General Guidelines to promote early engagement between defence and prosecution. It is encouraged in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and can influence a decision on whether or not to charge.
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Is Pre Charge Engagement Different To A Voluntary Police Interview?
Pre-charge engagement does not form part of any subsequent interview under caution. It should not be held against a suspect if they choose to not engage in this process.
If a suspect has answered ‘no comment’ to questions in an interview, it does not preclude the possibility of pre-charge engagement. Any discussions relating to pre-charge engagement, whether written or face-to-face, should be recorded.
The investigating officers should be wary, though, as to adverse inferences under s34 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. These are not available at the trial, where a suspect failed to mention a fact when asked about it in the pre-charge engagement process.
An adverse inference may only be drawn where a suspect fails to mention a fact whilst being questioned under caution.
How Pre-Charge Engagement Can Assist In Your Case
In the early stages of any investigation, it is vitally important to identify any lines of enquiry that will be beneficial to your case and assist in any defence.
Such lines of enquiry may include but are not limited to:
- Giving a suspect the opportunity to comment on any proposed further lines of inquiry.
- Ascertaining whether the suspect can identify any other lines of inquiry.
- Providing access to digital material such as revealing encryption keys or agreeing keyword searches.
- Giving consent to access medical records.
- Identifying any key witnesses and providing contact details for them.
- Clarifying whether any expert or forensic evidence can be agreed and, if not, whether you intend to instruct your own expert and timescales for this process.
It is vitally important that you obtain specialist legal advice in respect of this. We will then make the necessary oral or written representations to the police or crown prosecution service that such lines of enquiry are looked into to prove your innocence with the aim of avoiding prosecution.
What Are The Benefits Of Pre-Charge Engagement?
- It gives the suspect an opportunity to maintain innocence by early identification of other lines of inquiry. This may lead to evidence or material that points away from them and towards another.
- Early pre-charge engagement advice may assist in preventing a case from being charged that would otherwise be stopped later on in proceedings. This saves the costs and stress of a trial.
- If a suspect fails to supply facts to the police that a judge in proceedings believes could have prevented the court proceedings, they may not allow legal aid costs to be paid to the defence. The defendant may have to pay for the court proceedings themselves. This could run into thousands of pounds.
- Any issues in dispute can be narrowed down so that unnecessary lines of inquiry are not pursued, which will make the case run more efficiently.
- An early resolution to the case may reduce anxiety for both the complainant and the suspect.
We Are On Hand To Help
If you are subject to pre-charge bail with conditions or have been released under investigation, please get in touch now. We have lawyers on hand 24/7 who offer early pre-charge engagement legal advice. This could lead to a successful resolution in your case.
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