Involved in an arrest? What are your rights to free legal advice


If you or someone you know has been involved in a situation which has escalated into an arrest, then its important that you are aware of your rights to free legal advice.

As clearly stated on, below is guidance on what your rights are if you are involved in an arrest.

Upon arrival at the police station, the custody officer will explain your custodial rights which include:

  • The right to get free legal advice
  • The right to tell someone where you are
  • The right to have medical help if you’re feeling ill
  • The right to see the rules the police must follow
  • The right to see a written notice telling you about your rights, e.g regular breaks for food and to use the toilet (you can ask for a notice in your language) or an interpreter to if you do not speak English.

Let’s take a look at the first point – the right to get free legal advice.

What does this mean and how can Burnett Barker help you or a loved one in this situation?

Legal advice at the police station

When questioned, you have the right to have access to free legal advice (known as legal aid). It is your choice whether you choose to have a legal representative in the room with you. If you turn it down initially, you may change your mind at a later point.

If you have asked for legal advice, then the police are unable to question you until you have got it (with some exceptions). It’s important to note that the police can make you wait for legal advice and the longest you can wait at the police station after arrival is 36 hours (or 48 hours for suspected terrorism).

How can you gain access to free legal advice?

There are three ways for you to access free legal advice;

  1. Ask for the “duty” solicitor (available 24 hours a day and wholly independent of the police. The duty solicitor will be able to represent you for free)
  2. Ask the police to contact the Defence Solicitor Call Centre (DSCC)
  3. Ask the police to call your own preferred solicitor

Your solicitor has arrived – what to expect

Once your solicitor has arrived, your solicitor will be given a ‘disclosure’ by the police. This notice will outline the reasons for the arrest, details of the alleged, any evidence the police have against you and that formal questioning will be used to gain further evidence.

You will also be entitled to a private consultation with your solicitor without any police present. This will be an opportunity for your solicitor to ascertain that you’ve been informed of your rights, provide legal advice and take instruction.

Your legal rights during a formal interview

Prior to the interview, your solicitor should advise you or your loved one of the best courses of action. Typically, there are three options available; answer all questions fully, answer “no comment” to all questions, provide a written statement then answer “no comment” to further questioning.

During the interview, your solicitor should be present (alongside an appropriate adult/interpreter if required) and you are within your rights to request for the interview to be terminated if you require any further legal advice.

How Burnett Barker can help if you’ve been arrested

Our criminal defence solicitors are highly skilled at supporting clients through every step of the criminal justice process, starting at the police station.

If you would like us to provide you with free legal advice, then simply ask the police to phone Burnett Barker Solicitors. Your request will be passed through the Defence Solicitor Call Centre and we will be contacted on your behalf. We have a contract with the legal aid authority, so whilst you are under arrest at the police station you will not have to pay for our services.

Whatever your situation, we believe in the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” and we have the expertise to work closely with you or your loved one during your time of need.

For more information about our criminal law services, please phone us on 01284 701131 or email