A police interview, also commonly referred to as an electronic record of interview, occurs when police formally question an individual about an alleged criminal offence.
A police interview is often the start of a criminal matter and can make or break a case. If you do participate in a police interview, regardless of whether it occurs in a formal or informal setting, it is important to know that it can later be used as evidence against you in Court.
Criminal lawyers generally have a default response when answering the question, “should I participate in a police interview?”, and that answer is almost always no.
In Queensland, under the Police Powers and Responsibility Act 2000 (Qld), an individual has the right to remain silent. It is important to highlight that exercising your right to remain silent cannot later be used against you.
When exercising your right to remain silent, there are generally only three factual matters that you are obliged to provide to the police:
You should not answer any other questions unless you have first obtained legal advice.
If the police are investigating an individual about an alleged criminal offence, and at times even if they have charged an individual with an offence, they will offer an accused the opportunity to participate in an electronic record of interview (a police interview).
The interview will usually occur at a police station and can be both audio and/or video recorded. However, there are other circumstances where an interview may occur in an informal setting (for example, on the street).
Before an interview commences, police are required to provide you with the opportunity to speak to a lawyer, friend or relative and notify you of other safeguards, such as obtaining an interpreter and your right to remain silent.
It is important to remember that you are not required to go with police to the station unless you have been arrested. If you have been arrested, police can detain you for up to 8 hours with only 4 hours’ worth of questioning.
When you have a lawyer involved at your police interview, rarely will you be required to remain arrested for questioning for 8 hours without the matter progressing in some way.
Many individuals want the opportunity to tell their side of the story to police. Despite the good intentions, this can have serious adverse consequences. There are many risks associated with participating in a police interview:
Declining to participate in a record of interview can usually not be used as evidence against an accused. If the person is then charged with an offence, as unfortunate as that may be, that will generally mean they can receive and review the police evidence without recordings of an interview in their own time. Often, this is a far more foreseeable way to prepare the defence case.
The decision to participate in an interview should be approached on a case-by-case basis and is ultimately a question of whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
A police interview and questioning can be an overwhelming experience. An individual should first obtain proper legal advice from a lawyer experienced in criminal law before participating in any informal or formal police interview.
Gilshenan & Luton are highly experienced criminal lawyers who deal with police officers daily. We have a wide range of experience assisting individuals through the stages of a police investigation and interview.
If you have been contacted by police to participate in a police interview, you should contact Gilshenan & Luton for legal advice and assistance. We are available 24/7.
📞 07 3361 0222 (24/7)
This article is of a general nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstances, please contact Gilshenan & Luton, Criminal & Employment Lawyers Brisbane and Sunshine Coast, Queensland.