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Your Rights as a Suspect of a Crime

By: Liz Lennox - Updated: 16 Oct 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
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The rights of suspects before, during and after arrest are the subject of endless volumes of case-law, articles and debate. This is due, in part, to tireless campaigning by Human Rights groups but also as a result of accused defendants escaping prosecution because of deemed unfair behaviour on the part of the Police, Prosecutors or their own defence Counsel.

The result is a situation where many people, by virtue of sensational media headlines, feel that the law is weighted too heavily in favour of criminals. I don’t think this is the case. We need to bear in mind that these rules, laws and codes of conduct ensure that the innocent are not treated unfairly as well, as the guilty. After all, if we were wrongly accused, we would want to be treated as human beings and to ensure that every effort is made to uncover our innocence.

As already said, the individual nuances of suspects rights are lengthy; far too detailed to go into in one page. The general features are as follows:

Stop and Search

This is usually the first step, and the first contact that people will have. Unless, of course, the Police already have a reason to be looking for you.

To be able to stop and search you the Police have to have a strong, sound reason for doing so, for instance they have a reasonable suspicion to suspect you of committing a crime. They can’t just stop you on a whim, or because they are looking for something to do. As the person being searched you have the right to ask them to explain the basis upon which you are being searched. If they do not have a valid search power (i.e. cannot justify their suspicion) then you are entitled to refuse. This doesn’t apply if you are entering a building or area that has a search as an entry condition.

Conduct of Interviews

Whether under arrest or not, if you are interviewed by the Police then you have the right to a certain level of treatment. The main principle is that people must be dealt with as quickly as possible and released as soon as the need to keep them has passed.

Before any interviews can take place every person must be assessed for their fitness to answer questions and whether or not any special treatment or facilities are required, for instance an interpreter or medical examination. Once assessed for fitness then you must be cautioned, stating that you have the right to legal representation and why you are being interviewed. The interview will normally be recorded and you must be given the opportunity to review any statement that you give.

The interview can continue until the Investigating Officer is either satisfied that you have not committed a crime or that there is sufficient evidence to arrest you pending a formal charge. As I said before, there are reams of information regarding the conduct of interviews and I have simply picked out the most important. If you are ever in a Police Station being questioned then you can be given details of your full rights.

Treatment Following Arrest

The very first thing that should happen is that you must be told that you are under arrest, why you are under arrest and how the Arresting Officer came to the conclusion that you are a suspect.

An arrest can take place anywhere; your home, on the street or anywhere that is under the jurisdiction of the laws you are being arrested under. You should then be taken directly to the Police Station for formal caution and interview. There are circumstances under which you could be taken elsewhere, but this is only if your presence is required to conduct a search or to further the investigation.

Whether we like it or not, the Police have the right to use reasonable force to bring in a suspect, stop an offence or take someone into custody. It would be wrong to hamstring our Police force with a requirement to not tackle a suspect or prevent someone from escaping custody, I think most people agree. Of course this does not mean that suspects can be subjected to inhumane treatment, abuse or torture.

In Summary

As I have said before, the laws governing the rights of suspects are lengthy and cannot possibly be covered in one article. Suffice it to say that every person, no matter what their supposed crime, is innocent until proven guilty and must be treated as humanely and reasonably as possible.

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[Add a Comment]
If someone was accused of a crime at work and had a disciplinary hearing and found guilty (but resigned before the hearing) Then was reported to police for the alleged crime, do the police have to interview you as a suspect within a certain period once they’re made aware ?
Tojo - 16-Oct-18 @ 8:02 AM
mo - Your Question:
Please, I was arrested and accused of a crime I haven't done. I was charged with GBH and was kept in prison for 9 months before I was acquitted by the Jury but was still held in prison for another 2 months. During all these period, I was denied treatment for dentist and back pains which was police brutality against me and I am still at pains. Could you kindly give me a human right article to fight my case against the police?I was treated badly, as I did not have a family member in the UK and I was not allowed to pick my phone which I could have called some friends to granted me bail. is 8 years now, but still suffering from back pains and my front teeth has decayed

Our Response:
Unfortunately we cannot give legal advice on specific cases.
AboutHumanRights - 25-Oct-17 @ 11:55 AM
Please, I was arrested and accused of a crime I haven't done. I was charged with GBH and was kept in prison for 9 months before I was acquitted by the Jury but was still held in prison for another 2 months. During all these period, I was denied treatment for dentist and back pains which was police brutality against me and I am still at pains. Could you kindly give me a human right article to fight my case against the police? I was treated badly, as I did not have a family member in the UK and I was not allowed to pick my phone which I could have called some friends to granted me bail. is 8 years now, but still suffering from back pains and my front teeth has decayed
mo - 22-Oct-17 @ 10:33 PM
I was recently arrested after being accused of something I didn't do. However the day before my arrest I had woken up at 5:45am to go to work and that night had stayed up all night partying which involved the use of cocaine and alcohol. I was arrested at around 10 am the following day and not interview until around 11pm that night. This means that by the time I was interviewed I had been awake for over 41 hours and much of the interview is a blur as I was exhausted and may well have said things that seemed to incriminate myself. Is it possible to have the interview thrown out because I was suffering from sleep deprivation as well as recovering from a cocaine binge and drunken night previously. I was not seen or assessed by any medical staff prior to my interview
Daz - 3-Jul-17 @ 6:49 PM
What about the right of a suspect or defendant to justice ? I recently pleaded guilty to a minor criminal offence for tactical reasons after making some extremely disturbing observations while reading my Crown Prosecution Service case file . The flaws that I observed were : 1. treatment of uncorroborated victim testimony as key evidence ; 2. misinterpretation of the law in order to incorporate irrelevant material into key evidence ; 3. failure to ensure that the Police investigation was complete and impartial . The latter has already resulted in a lengthy and detailed complaint to the Police [ still in progress ] . I have submitted these allegations to the CPS , the Independent Assessor of Complaints , the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice . None want to know ! Perhaps because of implications for the Judiciary . My solicitor agrees with me that the issue is outside his remit as its potential scope is way beyond any individual case . Can anyone suggest an organization or journalist who may be interested in investigating these allegations , please , as this matter potentially affects all of us ? Thankyou .
Fred - 18-Jun-17 @ 1:28 PM
if a person charged with a crime does he have the right to a trial to clear his name even if the adag wants to have the charge dismissed but wants the accused to pay the court costs?
den - 7-Mar-17 @ 6:44 PM
My sixteen year old grandson hasbeen wrongfully convictedof a crime hedidn't commitand isbeing held without any proof or evidencethat hecommitted this crime .
Mary grice - 4-Mar-17 @ 12:59 AM
My sixteen yearold grandson hasbeen wrongfullyconvicted ofa crime he didn't commitandisbeingheld without any proof or evidencethathe committed this crime.
Mary grice - 4-Mar-17 @ 12:56 AM
Advogado, Londrina P - Your Question:
I have a friend who is being accused of having threatened to set fire to the house where he lives. It happens that he would never commit such an absurd size. He used an idiomatic expression much used here in Brazil. In the face of these events, according to local law, will be appointed a lawyer for him? Are you in danger of being arrested? Even explaining all this lack of cultural understanding? If he is guilty he will be deported? If he is arrested the state will help his family with some benefit?

Our Response:
Is he based in the UK?
AboutHumanRights - 9-Nov-16 @ 9:56 AM
I have a friend who is being accused of having threatened to set fire to the house where he lives. It happens that he would never commit such an absurd size. He used an idiomatic expression much used here in Brazil. In the face of these events, according to local law, will be appointed a lawyer for him? Are you in danger of being arrested? Even explaining all this lack of cultural understanding? If he is guilty he will be deported? If he is arrested the state will help his family with some benefit?
Advogado, Londrina P - 8-Nov-16 @ 12:17 AM
My son was arrested and charged and sentenced it ABH ... The thing is that I feel that this was not investigated properly ... He told the truth and admitted to what actuall happened ... But her evidence is not true ... Exagarated .. And perjured ...,he has complied with everything ... And now hasn't seen his daughter for 8 months on her testimony ... He has been found by 2 different well respected counselling services to have been abused by this woman for 9 years ... He is still being punished by the family courts ... By her statements and social workers who believe her ... My question is ... Why is and was this not investigated for the truth .. ? People who know the truth are not even asked ...neighbours .. Ex friends ... Family members ... Even her family members ... We believe that his daughter who s 5 years old is being coached to say that she doesn't want to see her daddy anymore ... She is 5 years old ...,we are told she is receiving counselling but never see any proof that this is happening ... Reports etc ,she has told a social worker that she is looking forward to seeing me ... But already there are barriers .. Her father has been deemed to be no threat to his daughter .. It has now been 8 months ... No contact with his daughter ... The mother says that she agrees that he should have contact but nevertheless puts stumbling blocks in the way for this to happen ... She has done this twice before with her previous partners
Twizzle - 24-May-16 @ 5:07 AM
challenger - Your Question:
I was arrested recently for gbh I was not shown a victims statment and I was not given a time date or where the incident happened on my bail sheet should I be allowed to see a statment why in interview and should I have time dates and where the incident took place The fact is by what I can make out it was between the 2nd and 4th january thing is I know and my partner and my family know where I was them days

Our Response:
When you're arrested you are told the reason why you're being arrested. You then have the opportunity to make a statement yourself. When you're interviewed you will be generally be questioned about the where you were on the dates/times of the incident. You should also be given the opportunity to have a solicitor present (who should be able to advise you on these things too).
AboutHumanRights - 14-Mar-16 @ 11:46 AM
I was arrested recently for gbh i was not shown a victims statment and i was not given a time date or where the incident happened on my bail sheet should i be allowed to see a statment why in interview and should i have time dates and where the incident took place The fact is by what i can make out it was between the 2nd and 4th january thing is i know and my partner and my family know where i was them days
challenger - 11-Mar-16 @ 3:53 AM
i went to court for possession of my home but when i tried to explaini wasnt allowed to speakat all. Is the judge out of order
kathleen - 10-May-15 @ 9:55 PM
Although I accept I am guilty of a very minor motoring offence, do I have the right to be called by my full title of Mr S----------- and not just my surname on the charge sheet and again in court. Do I have the right fo challenge witness statements if I think they are slightly inacurate and seem to be derogitary to my good charecter. The witness are serving Police Officer?
Dave - 6-Sep-12 @ 7:53 PM
please answer my question urgently:Does a criminal suspect in canada who has pleaded not guilty and was released after taking his passport until the end of the trial have the right to make overseas calls during the period of the trial? is there any limitation on the calls that he can make within canada or outside canada?
Joy - 4-Aug-12 @ 3:16 PM
My brother was recently arrested. He was beaten by the police and ended up in a hospital inside the prison. Doctors say that he must be operated just below the left neeple. I know that he must be punished if found guilty, but do they have to kill him before the courts decide.
Stiti - 5-Jul-12 @ 3:11 PM
Can a person taken into custody be taken to court with Out been interviewed also if person is of good back Ground. Haven't been identified by witnessess
KatukK - 12-Mar-12 @ 12:14 PM
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