Do I have to attend a police interview if requested?
No. If the police believe you have information about a crime, they may ask you to attend and participate in a police interview; but you do not have to attend.
Only if you have been arrested can the police force you to attend. In any case, before participating in a police interview you should always contact a criminal lawyer who can advise you about your interview rights and if need be, attend with you during the police interview.
Can I be arrested for questioning if I’m not a suspect?
No. You can only be arrested if you are suspected of an offence.
Police cannot arrest you just because you might know something about an offence. If someone else is charged, however, the Court may authorise a document to be sent to you (called a ‘subpoena’) requiring you to:
- attend Court to give evidence as a witness during the hearing, or
- produce documents in your possession, custody or control.
Can I be arrested if I am a suspect?
Yes. You can be arrested if you are suspected of an offence.
The police will then take you to a police station for questioning, after which they will decide whether or not to charge you with an offence. If you are charged, police will then determine whether or not you should be released on bail.
If you are not released on bail, the Police must take you a Court as soon as reasonably practicable (usually the next morning) where either you or your solicitor can apply to the Court for bail.
Do I have to answer police questions?
Whether you attend voluntarily or after being arrested, once at the police station you have a ‘right to remain silent’.
This means that you do not have to answer questions about the alleged offence, except in certain limited cases (See our Article titled: Do I have to answer questions when approached by police?).
We recommend you should not answer police questions until after you have contacted a criminal lawyer for advice. This is because the answers you give police can later be used in Court against you, possibly making it harder to defend your case.
Accordingly, you should give your name, address and date of birth but not answer any other questions until you have obtained legal advice.
What is an ERISP?
‘ERISP’ stands for Electronically Recorded Interview of a Suspected Person.
It is a record of a suspect’s interview by police at the police station, and may be recorded on audiotape, videotape or both.
If you are required to participate in an ERISP, you should give your name, address and date of birth, but otherwise not answer any other questions until you have contacted a criminal lawyer.
Similarly, you should not give any written statement or sign any documents other than your bail form without first getting advice from an experienced criminal lawyer.
Am I free to leave the police station at any time?
If you are not under arrest, you are free to leave the police station at any time.
If you are arrested, however, police can detain you for up to 4 hours for questioning before they must either:
- release you;
- charge you with an offence; or
- get permission from a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace to hold you for up to 4 more hours (See our Article: How long can I be held in custody?).
How can a solicitor help me?
Upon being called to attend a police interview or if you are arrested, you should contact a an experienced criminal lawyer who can:
advise you of your rights;
- explain any charges against you;
- explain your alternatives;
- attend a police interview with you;
- make a bail application for you in Court (if you are refused bail by police).
At Brazel Moore Lawyers we have Lawyers experienced in criminal law who can help you deal with any of these matters.