Australian citizens and foreigners visiting Australia have a lot of rights when it comes to police questioning. Essentially, you don’t usually have to answer any questions, especially if you don’t have a lawyer present.
If you have been or know that you’re going to be questioned by police, then you should speak to an experienced criminal lawyer as soon as possible. Doing this will allow you to build a defence against any charges which could be brought against you, and getting ahead of the ball like this will minimise your chances of legal penalties.
Similarly, if you’ve been questioned in a way that you don’t think was legal, you should also speak to your lawyer. In cases like this, any answers you provided may not be admissible in court.
When Do I Have The Right To Remain Silent In Australia?
Put simply, the right to remain silent when you are arrested by the police is a fundamental part of the Australian legal system. You don’t actually have to say anything to the police, no matter how intensely they question you.
Despite this, Australian police may attempt to make you talk when you’re arrested. They might ask informal questions before even arresting you, and it’s important to understand that your answers to these questions can be used as evidence in a court of law.
At the same time, the police might ask you if you’re willing to take part in a formal interview, and if you’re willing to provide a written statement. Again, you don’t have to provide anything.
What If I Decide Not To Talk?
Some people do answer questions and speak to the police because they’re worried about what could happen if they refuse. However, it’s important for you to understand that a core part of the Australian legal system is that deciding not to speak or provide a statement can’t be used against you in court.
What this really means is that you won’t ever be assumed guilty just because you don’t talk to the police or participate in an interview. The judge and the jury can’t take this into account, which means that the safe option is often to simply stop talking.
Do I Ever Have To Provide Information To The Police?
Although I’ve stated that you don’t ever have to answer police questions, this isn’t quite true. There are limited situations where you have to answer basic questions.
For example, if you’ve committed a traffic offence then you have to give basic information like your name and address.
However, if you’re not sure what questions you have to answer, the best thing to do is to request legal advice before talking at all.
Ultimately, you have the right to silence when questioned by police in Australia. They might encourage you to talk, but they can’t force you. If you have been questioned by police in relation to a serious matter, then I’d recommend speaking to a criminal lawyer to determine your safest course of action.