When someone is being investigated by the police, it is common for there to be a long delay following the police interview. This may be because the police investigation is continuing, or it could be because the police have sent your case to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision to be made as to whether you should be charged with an offence. This waiting time can be both worrying and frustrating, particularly if you feel that the police are not investigating all possible lines of enquiry.
Pre-charge engagement is a relatively new process which allows for voluntary engagement between parties to an investigation following the police interview and prior to charge. It provides an opportunity for you to discuss your case in depth with your legal team in order to try to identify potential lines of enquiry for the police to pursue in order to maximise your chances of not being charged. Alternatively, if you have committed an offence, it may be appropriate for us to draft a letter of representation to the police to seek to persuade them not to prosecute you and instead deal with your case with an out of court disposal such as a caution or a community resolution.
Pre-charge engagement is a voluntary process and it can be terminated at any time. If after the advice of your solicitor you decide not to engage, your decision should not be held against you later in the proceedings.
How can pre-charge benefit me?
There are a number of ways the pre-charge engagement process can benefit you.
- Identifying further lines of enquiry
- Giving information or access to digital material relevant to the investigation
- Providing encryption keys or passwords regarding potential evidence
- Proposing ‘key word’ searches of digital material
- Providing access to medical records
- Identifying and interviewing witnesses
- Identifying whether CCTV, dashboard camera or doorbell camera footage exists
- Discussion of expert or forensic evidence and considering whether the defence should instruct their own expert
How does it work?
Pre charge engagement begins after your initial police station interview. If the police deem your case suitable for pre-charge engagement, they will provide us with a “pre-charge document” which gives us the green light to become involved in the process. We will ask you to attend an initial consultation at our offices where we will go through all the possible lines of enquiry with you. We then prepare a detailed document which is approved by you before being sent to the police.
Am I eligible?
There is no financial eligibility test so every client is entitled to the service regardless of their financial position. Some clients prefer to pay us privately for this work and we would be happy to provide you with details of our fees and an estimate of the costs involved.
Can I change solicitors for pre-charge engagement?
Yes, you can. Many of our clients have come to us for the pre-charge engagement process having been represented by another firm in interview at the police station. A copy of the police station notes and any subsequent correspondence sent to you by the previous firm is all we will need to see and the rest of the information will come from our discussions with you.
How can we help?
If you are currently under investigation for an offence which you think could benefit from a pre- charge engagement please get in touch with us today by calling us on 01442 242999 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Engaging with us from an early stage of an investigation could make the difference as to whether or not you are charged with an offence.