There are many reasons why you may find yourself asked for an interview by a police officer- but should you do it?
In Queensland we do not have the Miranda Rights that you will see on US cop shows, but we do have the right to silence. If a police officer has stopped you in the street, invited you to the police station, detained you, or arrested you, you will only be breaking the law if you do not provide the following:-
- Your name and address;
- Your date of birth (for drug offences);
- Answers about a breach of traffic laws or whether you’ve been a witness to a crash; or
- Answers under other special laws that you are obligated to answer (such as under the Liquor Act 1992).
In all other circumstances you can refuse to answer or choose to remain silent. Your silence cannot be used against you or used to imply guilt. If you are unsure if you must answer a question, make sure you clearly ask the police officer.
If you have been invited to attend the police station for an interview or have been detained or arrested by police, it is recommended to exercise your right to silence. Here are 5 reasons why:-
- There Are Very Few Ways It Can Help You
If you are being questioned in connection to an indictable offence (one that would be dealt with in the District or Supreme Courts such as murder or rape) then the questioning police officer must caution you about your right to remain silent. During that caution, they will tell you something along the lines of “If you do say something or make a statement, it may later be used as evidence”.
Police powers are extensive and complicated, providing many ways that the police can use your evidence. It would be safe to assume that anything you say that supports their case will be used as evidence. It is rare that what you say will cause the police to drop the charges against you.
- You May Admit Guilt Without A Benefit
Even if you wish to plead guilty to a charge, it is best to speak to a lawyer before the police. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate on your behalf to improve your sentence. If you have admitted guilt to the police, then there is no incentive for prosecutions to enter into those negotiations.
- You May Unknowingly Implicate Yourself
You may be 100% sure, in your mind, that you have never committed a crime, but there are hundreds of laws in Queensland, most of which you have probably never heard of. During questioning, you may find yourself admitting to breaking a law unknowingly, leading to charges potentially more serious than the ones you were originally questioned about.The police also do not have to be truthful about the details they know of a crime. If you admit to knowledge of something innocently, you may be creating more problems for yourself- rather than being helpful.
- You May Inadvertently Lie – And Destroy Your Credibility
When you are detained for questioning, the police can hold you for up to 8 hours, and longer if special leave is allowed. They can question you for 4 out of those 8 hours. That process can be tiring and frustrating, as some tactics involve similar questions being asked frequently.It is a natural instinct to exaggerate when faced with similar questions over and over again. An answer of “I didn’t do ___” can quickly escalate to “I have never done __” and can derail your credibility just as quickly.
- You May Tell the Truth- And Someone Else Will Destroy Your Credibility
If you are being questioned as a suspect (or a defendant) in a crime, even if everything you say is completely truthful, you may already be on the backfoot. The police may have credible witnesses, even ones that are mistaken or unsure, who can cast doubt on your statement. It will then become a case of you against them – but they are not the ones charged with a crime.
Once you have been charged, the police will have to provide what is called a QP9 document. This is the version of events surrounding the incident that the police will allege in court. It is always best to wait until you have read this document before deciding to tell anyone your side of the story – including us.
If you think you may need the assistance of a legal representative, please contact one of our solicitors. We deal with criminal matters between Sarina and Bowen, with offices in Mackay, Proserpine and Cannonvale.