It is important to understand your rights and obligations
If you are approached by police and asked to provide a statement or answer questions to assist them with their enquiries, it is important to understand your rights and obligations before you agree to co-operate.
The right to silence
In Australia we have a right to silence. That means, in most cases:
- You do not have to make a statement to police
- You do not have to answer questions other than providing your name and address
- You do not have to go to a police station unless you are taken into custody (ie: you are under arrest) and told what offence you are suspected of committing
- If you are under the age of 18, police must ensure that there is an adult you trust present when they interview you
- You do not have to agree to take part in an ID parade
- Unless police have an Order from a Court, you do not have to agree to undergo a forensic procedure. Police can, however, take your fingerprints if they believe you have committed an offence and you are aged 15 or over.
You should speak to a criminal lawyer before you decide whether to answer questions or say ‘no comment’. If you do decide to give a ‘no comment’ record in an interview, it is important to say ‘no comment’ to all questions after you have provided your name, address and date of birth. Don’t say ‘no comment’ to some questions and answer others. This can be used against you.
What is the purpose of a police interview
The purpose of a police interview is for them to obtain evidence which can be used against you in court.
In an interview police will write down your answers or record them on a DVD. The answers you give can and will be used against you in court if you are charged with a criminal offence. For this reason, it is often best to say ‘no comment’ to the questions asked by police.
Deciding when is best for a police interview
If police contact you and ask you to come to the police station for an interview, you should make an appointment time that is convenient for you and then immediately seek legal advice.
It is best to make a time in the morning and avoid Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This way, if you are refused bail at the end of the interview, there is time to make a bail application at court. If you are interviewed over the weekend and refused bail, you will have to stay in custody until at least Monday morning.
If you are being interviewed by police, remember:
- Be polite and respectful
- Don't get angry or aggressive
- Exercise your right to get legal advice and speak to a criminal lawyer before you answer questions
- Do not sign any documents
- Do not make a written statement
Remember – this is a basic guide. If you are contacted by police, or think that you might be contacted by police, in relation to a criminal offence, you should immediately call our criminal law team for advice before the matter goes any further.
Being found guilty of a criminal offence can detrimentally effect your future employment prospects and travel opportunities as well as your family life and personal wellbeing. It is best to be properly advised from the very start of the process.