Since the Policing and Crime Act was implemented in April 2017, our criminal defence solicitors have seen a rise in the number of people being ‘released under investigation’. This is a controversial practice because it places you, as the accused, in a state of limbo.

If this has happened to you, please read on to find out exactly what this means, and what will happen next. We have put together a list of frequently asked questions to help you understand your position in more detail.

 

What does it mean to be released under investigation?

Being released under investigation (RUI) means that you are suspected of a criminal offence and that the investigation into your alleged criminal activity is ongoing. You have not been charged, and nor has your case been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). But you are not yet ‘out of the woods’, because the police are still suspicious that you have committed a criminal offence.

Typically what happens is that you are interviewed under caution by the police, but there are not sufficient grounds to charge you. However, the police do not want to dismiss you as a suspect just yet. Instead, they want more time to make inquiries, before deciding whether or not to refer your case to the CPS. The police, therefore, choose to release you under investigation. This allows you to leave the police station, but the police can seize your personal property as evidence.

You will be told about the outcome of the investigation ‘at some point in the future’. This creates a great deal of uncertainty because you do not know if the police will eventually charge you, or drop the case against you. To make matters worse, the investigation process has no maximum time limit, meaning you could be kept waiting for weeks, months or years before you discover the outcome. Having the threat of prosecution hanging over your head can be very unnerving, and may even damage your ability to earn an income.

Why have I been released under investigation?

You have been released under investigation because the police believe you may have committed a criminal offence, but do not have enough evidence to charge you. They cannot hold you in custody, so release you while they carry out further investigations.

You can be released under investigation for alleged offences that are both minor and serious. In fact, there are cases in which suspects accused of rape and grievous bodily harm (GBH) have been released under investigation.

If you have been arrested and interviewed under caution, the police have the option of releasing you under conditional bail instead. This means that you can leave custody but must abide by certain conditions, such as living at a certain address and avoiding contact with named people. However, bail is currently restricted to 28 days, so the police tend only to release suspects on bail if they are concerned that:

  • You will commit another offence
  • You will fail to turn up at court
  • You will intimidate witnesses
  • You will try to obstruct the course of justice

Otherwise, it is likely that you will be released under investigation, rather than released on bail.

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