What are my rights during a police interview?

In this article, it is important to highlight key aspects of one’s rights and obligations when interacting with the police.

Right to remain silent

The right to remain silent is fundamental, but there are situations where you must respond to certain police inquiries, like providing your name, address and date of birth. It’s crucial to understand when you’re legally required to answer and when it’s permissible to remain silent. The police can use anything you say as evidence, so being cautious about what you share is vital. If you don’t want to answer questions and you’re not sure if you have to, get legal advice.

Additionally, you’re not obligated to go to a police station unless under arrest, and even there, your right to silence persists. If the police aren’t giving you a choice about going to the station you can ask them if you’re under arrest. If you are not under arrest, then you don’t have to go.

Is police interview mandatory?

When considering a police interview, it’s not mandatory to participate, especially if you’re a suspect. Legal representative is highly recommended in this situation. Be aware that anything you say is recorded and could be used in court. Interviews can be nerve-wracking, leading to potential misunderstandings or misstatements. Responses given may lead to additional or more serious charges. A lawyer can accompany you, though they can’t intervene in the interview. Participating in an interview often neither harms nor benefits your case significantly. Police aren’t required to be truthful about their knowledge of the incident. If you choose to interview, we recommend seeking legal advice and note that police must allow reasonable time for this, usually up to 2 hours, while they can detain you for questioning up to 8 hours.

If you agree to a police interview, you have certain rights. You’re entitled to discuss with a friend, relative, or lawyer beforehand. The police must ensure you comprehend the proceedings. If under the influence, non-English speaking, or hearing impaired, you can request to delay the interview, have an interpreter, or use Auslan services. Additionally, you are entitled to receive copies of any statements or recordings made during the interview.

Lastly, special considerations for interviews, such as the presence of a lawyer and the right to understand the process, should be emphasized, particularly for vulnerable groups like minors and non-English speakers.

Do I need a lawyer?

Seeking legal advice is advisable if you’re unsure about participating in a police interview, providing DNA samples, or if the police wish to discuss a serious offense with you. It’s also crucial if you have been charged, are going to court, need to reschedule or relocate your court appearance, think you’ve missed a court date, or have questions about your sentence, bail, or disclosing your criminal history.

If you are charged with an offense, it’s important to request a copy of the Queensland Police form 9 (QP9) from police prosecutions at the court. This document is a summary of the police’s perspective on the charge. Ideally, obtain the QP9 prior to seeking legal advice. You can usually get it from the police prosecutor on your initial court date, or you might need a written request with photo ID if you cannot obtain it then.

I can’t afford a lawyer

For legal advice in Queensland on criminal law matters, you can contact Legal Aid Queensland. They offer advice but can’t provide a lawyer for police interviews. For urgent cases or serious offenses, consider applying for legal aid or finding a private lawyer. Community legal centers may offer free preliminary advice on some criminal law issues, though they generally don’t provide legal representation. The Queensland Law Society can help you find a specialized private lawyer for advice and representation.

Read Further: A Guide to Reducing Legal Fees: Practical Tips for Cost-Effective Legal Services


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