We've all seen crime and action thrillers where the police officer bursts through the door in a blaze of glory and arrests an offender, citing their right to remain silent. Though these scenes are brimming with theatrics, there is a grain of truth to the protocol portrayed. Here, we break down your rights and responsibilities in a police interview.
Police must adhere to a set of laws around questioning – failure to do so is serious misconduct.
What are my rights in a police interview?
According to the Queensland legislation, those subject to questioning by police have a number of rights that must be adhered to by all parties involved, including arresting officers.
1. You have the right to remain silent
Whether it's on your property, on the side of the road or in a public area, you have the right to remain silent – no matter the circumstances of your arrest. This is governed under the Police Powers and Responsibility Act 2000 (Qld). If you believe that anything you could say might incriminate you further, it's key to remain silent and not participate in the interview until a trusted lawyer is present. That being said, you are required to provide honest answers to the following questions – failure to do so is an offence.
- Your full name and date of birth.
- The residence where you currently live.
- What you have witnessed in relation to a crime or incident.
It is important to remember that maintaining the right to silence can't affect how a jury sees you if your case goes to trial. With indictable offences such as murder and rape, however, any statements made may be used as evidence in the case against you.
2. You are only to be detained for a certain amount of time
You may be asked by police officers to accompany them to a station for questioning. Unless you've been detained for interrogation relating to an indictable offence or formally arrested, you have no obligation to go with them. In some instances, you may need to go with them to formally decline to participate in a record of interview.
The amount of time that police can legally detain you for is eight hours, unless they provide a Court order allowing them to hold you for longer. Only four of the initial eight hours can be used for questioning. It's vital to request the presence of a lawyer during this time to ensure your rights are protected. Police aren't in any way allowed to use intimidation or aggressive tactics to force a confession.
Legally, you can only be detained for eight hours by police for questioning, unless a Court has ordered otherwise.
3. Your needs must be met
Police officers legally must meet any of your needs necessary for fair questioning. This includes:
- Allowing children to have parents or a support person present.
- Providing translators or interpreters.
- Not questioning while you're intoxicated.
- Providing support persons for those with impaired capacity.
You are also allowed to contact a support person and a lawyer to be present for your interview. Police aren't allowed to listen into conversations you have with these parties.
4. You are entitled to warning prior to questioning
When being interrogated for indictable offences, the police need to warn you about certain things before asking questions, making sure that you understand fully the implications of your answers. They must advise you that you're being recorded, and give you a copy of the interview within seven days.
Before you answer any police questions, it's absolutely vital to reach out to the team at Beavon Lawyers to support you through the interview process. With a wealth of experience in the many facets of criminal law, we are dedicated to helping our clients seek a favourable outcome for their case. For more information, get in touch with our team.