We often hear “You have the right to remain silent” on the high rating USA television shows, but here in Australia, can you, or should you exercise that right?
Apart from some situations such as motor vehicle incidents, where certain specific information must be given by a driver or owner of a vehicle, you can and should exercise your right to silence.
The concern most people have is the guilty inference that is associated with declining to answer questions. The reality is that the right to silence is in place to protect the innocent, not the guilty. The fact that you exercised your right cannot be used against you in Court.
Being interviewed by police can be a very stressful situation even if you have not done anything wrong. You may have a valid reason for your actions that have led Police to instigate an investigation of allegations made against you, but at the time, you may have trouble articulating your reasons or defence. This is best left to your solicitor.
The Police may ask, “Did you punch the bloke?” your answer might start with “Yep, got him a beauty, it stopped him from stabbing me”. Sometimes, only the first half of that answer is heard or understood by Police.
Only if you believe what you have to say will fully exonerate you and there is someone or something to corroborate your version should you even think about answering questions. You can always refuse to answer questions until you get legal advice, before providing requested information if your solicitor tells you to do so.
The police will inform you if it is a situation where you must answer, but if they have not told you that you must answer a particular question then it is safe to presume that you have a right to silence, and it is advisable to use it.
If you have any questions you would like answered either confidentially or via this medium, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is intended for general information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought.