Being interviewed by police? Speak to a lawyer first
Attending a police station to participate in a video recorded interview can be very daunting. You will only be asked to do this if you are being interviewed in relation to an indictable offence.
If you are pulled over by police for a summary offence (for example drink driving), you will not be asked to participate in a video recorded interview. You will be questioned on the side of the road and you will either receive an infringement notice on the spot or be advised that you will receive a summons in the mail.
When questioning you in relation to a summary offence, a police officer can record the conversation. They are not required to inform you in respect of being recorded.
When being questioned over an indictable offence the police must caution you in regard to your rights and record that caution. If they do not it is likely that anything you say will be inadmissible later at Court. You do not have to answer questions and you must be given the opportunity to make a phone call to a lawyer. Different rules apply to summary offences.
You should always seek legal advice before taking part in a video recorded interview. Police now use DVD recorders when conducting a record of interview. Whatever you say during the course of the interview may be used against you later to prove their case.
Even if all the witnesses were to later die and their statements were all lost, the police would only need your answers on the record of interview DVD to prove their case. What you say in interview is very important.
Should I make comment or no comment in my police interview?
During the course of the interview you should either make a comment interview by participating openly during the record of interview, or make no comment, answering none of the questions put to you by police. Something you should never do is answer some questions and then answer no comment to others. In some circumstances juries are permitted to make inferences against you when you answer in this manner.
You should also know that there is no such thing as an “off the record” conversation with police. If your intention is to say nothing to police during the recorded interview that should also apply to any conversation that you have with any police member at any time in regard to the alleged offence.
There is no straightforward answer to whether you should make comment or not make comment during a record of interview. If you are unsure or nervous about making comment during your interview then you should err on the side of caution and make a straight no comment interview.
There are some circumstances where a comment interview might be helpful. If you participate in an interview you may not be required to give evidence later. This can have huge advantages. Sometimes, making a comment interview may mean you are provided the opportunity of diversion.
It is nonetheless a fact that many recorded interviews we have listened to have not been helpful for the person participating, and have only assisted the police to prove their case.
Seek advice from a lawyer before deciding to make comment or no comment
Whether to make a comment or no comment interview is not a decision that should be taken lightly. There can be serious ramifications for making the wrong choice, and it is one that should only be made after detailed consultation with a lawyer.
If you have been asked to participate in a record of interview then seek urgent legal advice. Call our office to discuss your case with a criminal lawyer today.