If the police suspect you have committed a crime, they will want to conduct a recorded interview. There are some circumstances where they conduct a 'field interview' which is not audio-visually recorded. This is if you are suspected of committing an offence contained in the Road Safety Act 1986 or Summary Offences Act 1966.
This article will describe how police interviews are generally conducted.
The police will generally arrest a suspect for the purposes of an interview. Or they may invite a suspect to the police station to be interviewed where the suspect will be placed under arrest at the station for the purposes of an interview.
Purpose of Interview
The main purposes of an interview is for the police to get information to assist their case against a suspect or to get admissions. The police use different techniques to achieve these objectives such as saying:
- 'this is your one opportunity to say your side of the story'
- 'tell me your side of the story so I can see where the pieces land'
- 'just come in for a chat and this may all be cleared up'.
A person being interviewed is only obliged to tell police their name, address and confirm if they are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. They are not required to answer any questions.
Before the interview starts, the police officer will give the suspect a 'caution'. The caution is -
"I must inform you that you do not have to say or do anything, but anything you say or do, may be given in evidence. I must inform you of the following rights. You may communicate with, or attempt to communicate with a friend or a relative, to inform that person of your whereabouts. You may communicate, or attempt to communicate with a legal practitioner."
The police must allow a suspect to call a lawyer to get legal advice and a relative to let them know they are in a police station. They will only refuse a phone call to a friend or relative if they reasonably believe the call will lead to the destruction of evidence, or to assist a co-accused
A person should speak with a lawyer before being interviewed so they can receive some information on how the interview will be conducted and the implications of making a comment. The police interview is an important part in the police investigation.
The Right to Silence
A person being interviewed by police has a right to not incriminate themself. They can remain silent or respond 'no comment' to police questions. A court cannot use a person's decision to exercise their right to remain silent negatively against them by inferring they were concealing their guilt.
Having an Adult or Independent Third Person Present
A person being interviewed may have a lawyer present with them during the interview.
The police must arrange for a parent, guardian or independent adult is present during the police interview if the suspect is a child.
If the person being interviewed has a mental impairment, an independent third person from the Office of the Public Advocate must be present during the interview.
What happens after an interview?
After the interview ends, the suspect must provide police with their finger-prints. Police can use reasonable force to get them if the suspect refuses to provide them voluntarily. These days, police have a touch-pad screen which electronically scans a person's finger prints and stores them on the police database. Police no longer use black ink to take finger-prints.
- A person may be charged and kept in custody, until they appear at the Magistrates Court to make an application for bail.
- A person may be charged and released on bail by police, or a bail justice, with certain conditions; to appear at Court at a later time.
- A person may be released from custody to be charged on summons. This is a notice containing the charge/s, date, time and location of the first court hearing.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.