Know Your Rights and Obligations
Q: I am under investigation for a criminal offence do I need to answer questions? What is my obligation?
A: Your obligation is to give your name and address and your date of birth. It is well known among Perth criminal lawyers that Police will use techniques that are completely legal to obtain information from a suspect, that includes engaging you in social conversation to break the ice and to get you talking. You may have a view that a failure to provide an explanation indicates you are guilty or if you have done nothing wrong why not answer questions. Put that completely out of your mind. There is no adverse inference or suggestion that can be made against you if you do not answer any of the questions. In all matters there is a presumption of innocence. If the Police believe you are guilty it is not in your interest to try and convince them otherwise. They intend to charge you anyway. The only person you will need to convince is a Court or jury. If at a later time in an unusual case after you have had legal advice and it is appropriate to for example provide information or be interviewed by then you know what the allegation is against you, we can arrange with Police to speak to them at that stage.
Our advice therefore is as follows. If Police attend at your house or place of work or you are at a Police Station or any other place where Police have effectively taken control of you and wish to ask you questions for an investigation on any matter for a criminal offence:
You must give your name and address and date of birth.
To all other questions simply reply “I do not wish to say anything and I wish to get legal advice” or if you are in a room where the interview is being recorded “I do not wish to say anything. I wish to get legal advice and I wish the camera to be switched off”. Those answers should be given to all questions even of a social nature, even if the question was “Is English your first language” it does not matter what the question is the answer you should give is the same. There is no magic in the words you can say “I’ve done nothing wrong I don’t wish to say anything. I wish to get legal advice and I wish the camera to be switched off”. Often Police will say to you “Would you like to hear what the allegation is”. Again at some later stage if you are charged you will be made aware of the allegation if they charge you but follow the advice of indicating “I do not wish to say anything and you wish the camera to be switched off”.
Max Crispe on 0407 440 078, Kate Crispe on 0415 058 950, Shirley Casey on 0458 850 033 or Mel McEwen on 0437 030 713.
Q: I am under investigation for a traffic offence. They want to ask me questions as to what happened. What is my obligation?
A: In the case of a traffic offence e.g. dangerous driving or dangerous driving causing death or grievous bodily harm, hoon offences, reckless driving, even speeding offence allegations you are obliged to provide your name, address and date of birth as I have explained above but there is one important extra matter that you must answer and it is in this area that people can sometimes get confused. Where a matter involves a traffic matter the person in charge of a vehicle or the driver must indicate who was driving at the relevant time, in other words, ‘I was the driver’. That is all. No details, no further information is required and it is important that a person is not lulled into answering additional questions unless they wish to do so.
I recommend the required information regarding a traffic matter be provided to Police by your legal advisor, then there is no confusion. It is a fact that Police will seek to ask further questions about the manner of driving and other circumstances. You do not need to provide this. Your obligation is only to provide your name, address, date of birth and the fact that you were the driver at the relevant time, nothing further.
If possible ring for legal advice ring one our Perth criminal lawyers Max Crispe on 0407 440 078, Kate Crispe on 0415 058 950, Shirley Casey on 0458 850 033 or Mel McEwen on 0437 030 713.