Record of Interview
Police ask many people to attend a police station for an interview about criminal allegations, which is a crucial stage of a police investigation.
Slades & Parsons can guide you on your rights and provide legal advice, which can be particularly important prior to a Record of Interview.
A Record of Interview forms part of a criminal investigation, where the police officer who is investigating a matter puts the allegations to the person accused of an offence. It is a requirement of all criminal investigations that a person who may be accused or charged with an offence has an opportunity to answer the allegations.
The Record of Interview is also an opportunity for the accused person to give their side of the allegations, to deny the allegations or to admit guilt of offending. A Record of Interview can be considered to be a statement to police from the accused person.
There is no obligation on persons being interviewed to answer the questions, and all persons have the right to give a “no comment” interview. It is very important for anyone who is to be interviewed to request to have legal advice prior to the interview.
A Record of Interview forms part of a criminal investigation and people may be released without being charged. However, this does not mean that the police will not charge an accused person at a later stage.
Police members can charge people by way of a ‘summons’ to attend Court if they had not charged at the time of the interview. Alternatively, they can arrange a time for you to attend the police station to be placed on bail.
Legal representatives ask police questions prior to giving legal advice. It may be that the police officer will advise the legal representative that they will be charging the accused person. This assists with legal representatives giving people who are going to be interviewed advice regarding answering questions in the interview or likelihood of a remand application by the police.
Recent Bail Act changes have resulted in many criminal charges resulting in police remand applications.
Interpreters can be organised by Victoria Police to assist a person in a record of interview. However, there are some driving offences where interpreters do not need to be arranged (driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol).
Interpreters are paid for by Victoria Police and are registered and trained to translate during interviews.
There are interpreters available for many different languages and dialects. If an appropriate interpreter is not available, then the information you give to a police officer may be excluded in court.
Minors are able to be interviewed by police either as an accused or as a witness.
Any person under the age of 18 years or who has a cognitive disability must have either a parent, guardian or an independent person with them during a Record of Interview.
If a parent, guardian or independent person has not been arranged then the interview cannot be used as evidence. An independent person is arranged by police and is there to make sure minors understand their rights.
The only time that the police do not have to wait for a parent, guardian or independent person, is in a situation where they may believe that someone may be in danger.
If a minor or a person who has a cognitive disability makes a statement to police as a witness, their statement can be by way of video rather than a written statement.
The length of a record of interview largely depends on the complexity of the investigation, and whether a person will elect to answer the questions or to give a “no comment” interview.
A “no comment” interview ordinarily takes half an hour or less, as the questions police ask are limited by the refusal to answer questions.
If a person elects to answer a record of interview and the offences are serious, the record of interview may go for over an hour depending on the number of questions being asked by police.
Prior to a record of interview for serious offences, police will have a pre-determined line of questioning. These questions can be increased depending on the answers of the person being interviewed.
Police have the power to arrest people for the purpose of a Record of Interview.
Following an arrest, you can elect to give a “no comment” interview whereby you refuse to answer the questions of the police member interviewing you. The only answers you must give are your name and address, otherwise, you have the right to silence.
On some occasions, you may be given the option to waive your right to an interview. This can occur if the accused person is in custody and has sought legal advice. This information is then communicated to police via the accused’s legal representative.
Police may give small detail regarding why they are interviewing you, however, they do not have to give you all the information they have before the interview takes place.
For example, the police may advise you that you are being interviewed for a shop theft, but they may not advise you until the end of the interview that they have CCTV video footage of the shop theft. This is a commonly used interview tactic by police as answers given in a record of interview can be used as evidence.
This is why it is important for all people to exercise their rights to contact a legal representative prior to the interview. A lawyer will ask a series of questions to a police officer regarding the offending and the evidence they have prior to giving interview advice.