Being Questioned by Police and Participating in Police Interviews

If you are under investigation by the police, you may be asked to participate in a video record of interview (also known as an electronic record of interview). The police will often arrest you on suspicion of having committed an offence and then ask you to participate in an interview.

When questioned by police, you can exercise your right to silence. You must provide the police with your personal details, being your full name, date of birth and address, but you do not need to answer any other questions. If you choose not to answer any questions, you can answer by saying “no comment”.  You can also inform the officers prior to the interview that you intend on providing a “no comment interview”.

If you do participate in an interview, you will be placed in an interview room with two police officers, and the interview is recorded on video. There will ordinarily be a microphone recording audio in the middle of the table.

The police are required to caution you. As part of the caution, the police must tell you that:

  1. you do not have to answer their questions;

  2. any answers you give will be recorded and can be played in court if you are charged; and

  3. you may answer some questions and not others.

In addition, the police must also tell you what your rights are, including that you have the right to communicate with a lawyer. You can exercise this right at any time during the interview, whether it be before the interview, during, or towards the end.

If you exercise this right, the police must stop the interview and recording, and allow you the opportunity to call your lawyer. If you do not have a lawyer, the police will often do an internet search and call one of the firms that come up in the search.

If you do not understand English, an interpreter can also be made available.

It is your decision whether or not to participate in the interview, and there are advantages and disadvantages to this.

One advantage of participating in an interview is that you get the opportunity to provide your version of events. If you are pleading guilty, you can then submit at sentencing that you assisted police in their investigation by answering their questions. If you are pleading not guilty, your interview will likely be played in court, and this may mean that you can avoid giving evidence at a trial, if your evidence is contained within the interview.

On the other hand, one disadvantage of participating in the interview is that you may be assisting the police in their investigation by providing them with information that they previously did not have evidence of. Also, the police may ask the same question in several different ways, and confuse you, and you may inadvertently answer incorrectly or say something you later regret.

It is a matter for the police to investigate the allegation, and to come up with enough evidence to support the charge. There is no need for you to assist police with this.

Generally (but not all of the time), it will be best to exercise your right to silence, by refusing to participate in the interview, or by providing a “no comment” interview.

Lawyers often do not sit in on interviews, as we cannot assist you in answering questions, but can only provide you with advice when asked. Further, if the recording were to fail or any issues were to arise as to whether the interview is admissible as evidence, we may be called as a witness as to what occurred in the interview.

If you have been asked to participate in a police interview and you would like some advice before doing so, please call us on (08) 9500 8915.

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