Released Under Investigation - What Does It Mean?
PCD Solicitors are specialist sexual offence firm. We proactively represent clients across England and Wales charged with some of the most serious sexual offences, including rape, indecent images, grooming and sexual assault. The investigative stage of case is arguably the most important stage of any criminal case. How this stage is managed can prove crucial as to whether a person is charged with a sexual offence. We may be able to persuade the police to take no further action even before you're charged.
Most people arrested by the police and interviewed as a suspect under caution are then ‘Released under investigation’. The Policing and Crime Act 2017 coming into force provided the police with the power to release suspects without giving them a date to return to the police station to answer to bail. The majority of our clients find themselves subject to this method of investigation, which leaves them feeling anxious and stressed and in a state of permanent limbo. We appreciate that this can be the most difficult time of a clients case, not knowing what is going on.
Being released under investigation means that the police investigation is still ongoing following your initial arrest or voluntary attendance at the police station. Some suspects may be waiting weeks, months and in some cases years.
Before the introduction of the police releasing suspects under investigation, the police would release suspects on bail. This meant that the suspect would be expected to return to the station every 4-8 weeks only to be released on bail again. This brought much frustration to suspects and brought disruption to their private lives and work life, negative publicity followed and it was decided that the law had to change, restrictions were brought in to how long a suspect can be released on bail and then the option for police to release under investigation was made available and became the preferred method for police.
What is the difference between being released under investigation or on bail?
The main difference between being released under investigation or on bail is that when released under investigation you cannot be made subject to any bail conditions. However, it is wise to still refrain from making contact with any witnesses/complainants in the case as this may constitute a separate offence of witness intimidation or perverting the course of justice.
Where children are involved in cases it may be that social services impose their own restrictions and or recommendations. It is important they are adhered to and that you seek advice from your solicitor about this.
The impact on suspects who are released under investigation
Many of the cases we deal with involve complex forensic examinations. Whether this be the forensic examination of electronic devices or DNA forensic examinations. All of which can take a very long time to complete. Many clients ask why is it taking so long? When will my devices be returned to me? And when can I spend time with my children again? Being released under investigation can bring a whole range of emotions to a client; frustration, anger, anxiety, depression and sadness. We understand the stresses of not knowing what is happening in your case and we work hard to ensure we expedite the investigation process as much as we possibly can, with a view to our client’s returning to normal life as quickly as possible.
PCD Solicitors also appreciate and empathise with the stigma that can be attached to those accused of sexual offences, and a lengthy period under investigation does not help this. How to protect your family, job and or reputation can cause a substantial amount of stress. We are able to provide you with advice and information about avoiding or managing the potential impacts of a police investigation.
Having a solicitor involved during the investigative process can be hugely beneficial to a suspect. We build rapport with investigating officers so we can obtain disclosure at each stage of the investigation, ensure we are aware of the progress of the investigation at all times, and look to secure back the property of suspects when it is no longer required for the investigation. All steps we take when representing a client during the investigation stage of a case are aimed to make the process run as smoothly as possible for the client and other affected by the investigation, whilst protecting their legal interests along the way.
What happens when the police have concluded the investigation?
When your period of being released under investigation ends you may be invited back to the police station for a further interview. Usually an interview will take place in these circumstances when the police want a suspect to account for the evidence obtained during the investigation process. It is very important you have a solicitor present at your police interview.
The police may not interview and may have authority from the Crown Prosecution Service to charge or, it may be that the decision is made to take No Further Action.
What should you do next?
If you are subject to a police investigation, whether you are released subject to bail conditions or under investigation it is vital you obtain legal advice from solicitors who specialise in the area of law applicable to your case. Your solicitor should take steps to obtain updated disclosure from the investigating officer and take over the correspondence with the police on your behalf. The course of action differs in each case and PCD Solicitors are able to discuss the particular issues of your case or potential issues that may arise.
PCD Solicitors are specialist in all aspect of sexual defence work, we deal with cases from the suspects initial contact with police to representing clients charged with an offence at court. If you require any advice in relation to a police investigation involving you or a family member please contact 0151 705 8488 for free and confidential advice from one of our specialist lawyers.