You should note that in Queensland, police don’t have to caution you about your right to silence unless they want to question you as a suspect in a serious offence. Police must tell you that you are under arrest and the reasons for this.
You have the right to remain silent however you are required to answer the following questions:
- Your name, address and date of birth;
- Questions about any traffic related incident;
- Other instances involving an indictable offence – where unsure, you should call a lawyer immediately.
In any other instance, you have the right to remain silent.
Where you are invited to the police station make sure that it is clear that:
(a) you have been arrested for an offence or
(b) formally detained for questioning about an indictable offence.
Further you must also go with police for a blood or breath test in relation to a drink or drug driving offence.
If none of these circumstances exist and you are asked to accompany police to a station then you have the right to refuse.
Sometimes the police might tell you that you need to come with them and state on tape that you don’t want to be interviewed. They cannot do this unless you are under arrest or formally detained for questioning about an indictable offence.
Police can detain you for up to 8 hours unless a court order extends the period. If this happens to you, ask to call a lawyer immediately. Never give an interview until you have obtained proper legal advice.
If police want to interview you – there are Safeguards. These include:
- warning you about certain things before questioning you
- warning you (or ‘caution’) in a language that you can understand and use interpreters when necessary
- telling you that you have a right to remain silent and do not have to answer their questions
- telling you that you can contact a support person and a lawyer, and allow you to contact them
- recording the caution electronically or writing it down if necessary
- recording the interview itself electronically or write it down if necessary. You are entitled to a free copy of the interview tape within 7 days for a tape recording or 14 days for a video recording.
You have rights to be support during the interview
Police must allow you to contact a support person (a friend or relative) and a lawyer, and arrange for them to be with you during your formal interview. Police can’t listen to your conversations with your lawyer.
If you don’t understand anything that the police officer is telling you then ask them to explain the process to you.