If police are investigating an indictable offence (e.g., theft, robbery, trafficking, fraud or assault charges), they will ask you to participate in a Record of Interview.
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?
Police must provide an interpreter if you request one or if your English is limited. If you are under 18 then a parent, guardian or independent adult must attend. If you have a cognitive or mental disability, an independent third person must attend. You must provide your name and address at the interview. The law allows you to refuse to answer any other questions: you have a right to maintain silence.
If you wish to maintain silence, you should answer all questions with the words, “On legal advice I decline to answer” or “No comment”.
You will have the opportunity to contact a lawyer. It is important to obtain legal advice before you commence an interview.
Police interview procedures – What you need to know
Police must inform you in sufficient detail about the allegations. They must also provide information about the circumstances of the alleged incident. They do not, however, have to disclose all information. Nor do they need to be specific about what offence you may have committed.
Sometimes the investigating officials have made significant enquiries before they question you. This is not unusual. They may have obtained witness statements and forensic evidence. They may not disclose this fully to you during questioning.
Prosecutors may use your answers to questions in a Record of Interview in court. This could be to your disadvantage.
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.
If police interview you, they will provide a copy of the interview to you. You should see a lawyer as soon as possible to prepare your case.
Slades and Parsons: criminal 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.