Being questioned

Being questioned

The police may interview you as a possible suspect about the offence they have arrested you for.

Other than giving your name and address, you do not have to answer any questions.

Always get legal advice if you are in custody and the police are about to interview you.

Police caution

The police officer must read out your rights before they begin the interview. This is called a ‘caution’.

The caution used by the police officer is:

I must inform you that you do not have to say or do anything but anything you say or do may be given in evidence.

Do you understand that?

I must also inform you of the following rights.

You may communicate with or attempt to communicate with a friend or a relative to inform that person of your whereabouts.

You may communicate with or attempt to communicate with a legal practitioner.

These rights are for your protection. It will benefit you to use them. For example, tell the police officer you want to call a friend, relative or lawyer. Do this as soon as the police officer cautions you. Do not wait.

Ask the police officer to explain your rights in more detail if you do not understand what they are saying.

How to answer questions

You must give your name and address but otherwise you have the right to silence. This means you do not have to answer any other questions and can make a ‘no comment’ interview. The police cannot use this against you.

You can remain silent or say ‘no comment’ even if you spoke to the police officer before the interview. It will not help your case when you answer some questions but not others. When you stay silent or say ‘no comment’, do that for every question.

If you do say anything, be very careful when answering questions in a recorded interview. Whatever you say can be used against you later. The police will ask you questions from their angle. Your point of view might not be recognised. That is why the police have to caution you. You can always tell your side of the story at a later date, preferably through your lawyer.

Interview recordings

If the police have charged you with or are questioning you about an indictable offence the caution and interview will be video or tape-recorded. If they want to use this information as evidence in court, the police officer must record any questions they ask you and your answers.

For a summary offence the police officer does not have to record what you say for it to be used as evidence. Summary offences include minor driving offences, begging, offensive behaviour or being drunk in a public place. The police officer can write down questions they ask you and your answers. They can use this information as evidence against you in court.

The police officer must give you a copy of the interview. This copy is important for your lawyer.

Interpreters

You can get an interpreter if you do not understand English very well. The interpreter may come to the station or talk with you and the police officer by phone. The interpreter must be qualified (not just a relative). You do not have to pay for this, the police will pay.

The information you give the police officer can only be used as evidence in court when an interpreter is with you during questioning. However, police do not have to get an interpreter for drink driving or drug driving matters.

Help for people under 18 and people with a cognitive disability or mental illness

To be interviewed, the police officer must make sure you have:

After the interview

After you have been interviewed the police may:

  • release you from custody without charging you
  • release you from custody but charge you later. The police will serve you charges later on through a summons
  • release you from custody and give you a notice to appear. You will have to go to court if the police charge you within 14 days
  • charge you but release you on bail
  • charge you and have a bail justice release you on bail
  • charge you and keep you in custody until you go to court for a magistrate to release you on bail. If the police arrest you over the weekend, you cannot go to court until Monday morning when the court is open again, unless you are able to take part in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court weekend pilot program. See Magistrates' Court of Victoria to commence weekend sittings.

See Being released from custody.

Get help

Find out how you can get help dealing with police.