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Should a person seek legal advice when they being interviewed under caution by someone other than the police?

View profile for Colin Rawson
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Do I need a solicitor when being questioned by the police?

There are many situations when an individual will be interviewed under caution. The most common example of this will be at the police station when a suspect will be questioned over a criminal offence. It is vitally important that legal representation is sought immediately.

What many people may not realise is that there are other prosecuting authorities who can carry out interviews under caution; the Department for Work and Pensions, the local authority, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive to name a few. Again, you are entitled to be represented at these interviews and it is important that you contact a solicitor immediately once you have received notice of an interview.

Case study

In a recent example, I was asked to represent an individual facing an interview under caution with the Department for Work and Pensions.  This individual had worked all their adult life since leaving school. Due to a family situation beyond their control, my client had to resign from their employment. They were left facing an uncertain future and were advised to make a claim for state benefits. The claim was successful and for a period of 15 months, they were paid universal credit.

Once the family situation was resolved, my client found work and correctly notified the Department for Work and Pensions and their benefit was stopped. Six months into their employment, they were asked to attend an interview with the Department for Work and Pensions. He contacted Stephensons immediately for advice.

It was alleged that when making the claim for benefits, they had failed to disclose capital that they had saved from their previous years of work. I attended the interview with my client and it was agreed that the matter could be resolved by paying the overpayment back and a financial penalty as an alternative to the matter being prosecuted through the court. This way, they were able to carry on their employment without a criminal conviction getting in the way.

Whatever the allegation or the reason for being questioned, this stage of any criminal case is likely to be the most important. Every individual has the right to consult with a solicitor before they are formally questioned and it is essential that right is taken.

If you are interviewed under caution please do contact Stephensons on 01616 966 229. We have an experienced criminal legal team and use the service of expert counsel and independent expert witnesses when required.