A police interview broadly describes a process where police will question a person about a crime they are alleged to have committed.
If police are investigating an indictable offence (e.g., theft, robbery, trafficking, fraud or assault charges), they will conduct a Record of Interview, where the police officer puts the allegations to the person accused of an offence.
The Record of Interview: Allegations and Questioning of Suspects
Police ask many people to attend a police station for an interview about criminal allegations. Generally this is not arrest but a “taking into custody”. Under the Crimes Act (Vic), police must read you your rights and, if necessary, explain them before they can question you.
When an interview is over, the interviewing official, generally a police officer, may release you without charge. This can be pending a summons, or bail to attend a court hearing. Sometimes your answer is sufficient and the result will be no charges.
For more information about a record of interview, please see our frequently asked questions.
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What Are Your Rights in a Police Interview?
- You will have the opportunity to contact a lawyer. It is important to obtain legal advice before you
commence an interview.
- Police must provide an interpreter if you request one or if your English is limited.
- If you are under 18 then a support person (parent, guardian or independent adult) must attend.
- If you have a cognitive or mental disability, an independent third person must attend.
- The law allows you to refuse to answer any other questions. You have a right to maintain silence and give a “no comment” interview.
- Inform you in sufficient detail about the allegations.
- Provide information about the circumstances of the alleged incident.
But, police do not need to:
- Disclose all information.
- Be specific about what offence you may have committed.
- Tell you if they have obtained witness statements and forensic evidence. It is not unusual for investigating officials to have made significant enquiries before they question you.
The Police Interview Procedure – What You Need to Know
Overview of the Police Interview Procedure
- The police will read out your rights in a ‘caution’.
- These are for your protection. If you do not understand, ask them to explain in more detail.
- One of your rights at this time is to call a lawyer. Use this right and call a lawyer straight away.
- You will be asked for your name and address. You must provide this information.
- After you have provided your name and address, you have the right to remain silent and complete a ‘no comment’ interview’.
- If you choose to remain silent, do that for every question and answer with the words, “On legal advice I decline to answer” or “No comment”.
- If you choose to respond to questions, be careful as your answers can be used against you later. Prosecutors may use your answers to questions in a police interview recording in court.
- After the interview, police may:
- Release you, without charge
- Release you, and then charge you later
- Release you, and give you a notice to appear in court within 14 days
- Charge you, but release you on bail
- Charge you and keep you in custody
Police Interview Recordings
For an indictable offence, police interviews (and the ‘caution’) are electronically recorded so they can be used as evidence in court.
If police interview you, they will provide a copy of the interview recording to you.
Be Prepared For a Police Interview and Contact a Lawyer Early
It is important to consider the best way to approach a request for interview. Discuss this with a lawyer as early as possible, and make an informed decision about how to approach a police interview. This can be particularly important in sex offences, as well as in serious traffic cases such as culpable driving.
Even if you intend to make admissions in a police interview, it is still important that you seek advice before the interview.
Prepare well and give careful consideration to the best response to a police request for interview. This may well make a real difference to your ability to defend any allegations, if police lay charges against you.
Slades and Parsons: Criminal Law and Defence Experts
Slades and Parsons Solicitors are highly experienced in criminal matters. Our lawyers can provide sound and sensible advice about how you should approach police interviews. If police have arrested you and are about to interview you, we are available to provide advice. We provide an after-hours service for this.
If you are eligible under the Victoria Legal Aid guidelines, we can represent you on Legal Aid funding for an offence punishable by imprisonment.
Record of Interview – Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a record of interview?
- Can you be released without charge after a record of interview?
- What if English is a second language?
- Can minors be interviewed by the police?
- How long does the police interview last?
- Can you be charged without being interviewed?
- Can you refuse a police interview?
- Can police tell you why they’re interviewing you?