Nothing causes your stomach to drop quite like hearing that the local police wish to speak to you.
Whether that be coming home to a calling card left at your front door or a phone call from the police officer themselves.
“Mr Smith, we would like to speak to you about an incident. When can you come down to the police station?”
The reason for police wanting to speak to you can be narrowed down to only 2 reasons.
They wish to obtain a statement or conduct an interview.
Statement Or Interview?
There is a vast difference between police wanting to speak to you for a “statement” or an “interview”.
A statement refers to a witness statement. The usual scenario is where police believe you may have witnessed an incident occur, such as an assault or a traffic accident and your observations of the incident will assist them in investigating the matter.
You are not obliged to provide police with any information that you may be aware of and you are also under no obligation to provide a formal signed statement. In saying this, there are no obvious negative consequences of doing so, other than perhaps having to attend court in the future to give your evidence in the witness box, should the offender choose to contest the charge alleged.
An interview on the other hand, is far more serious and a great cause for concern. In essence, this means the police have formed reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed a criminal offence.
The more formal “textbook” reason for police wishing to interview a person is to determine their involvement in the suspected offence. Whilst this sounds harmless, it is fraught with danger. In reality, police interview suspects in the hope of obtaining admissions or confessions of the person’s guilt in committing the alleged crime.
Fortunately, legislation is in place to ensure the person (who is now a suspect) is provided with a sufficient warning that anything they say during the interview may be given in evidence.
What Does This Mean?
Anything you say during that interview (and in the presence of police generally) will be used as evidence against you in the upcoming court proceeding. Alas, this is where we come in.
Legislation also requires police to inform you that you may contact a legal practitioner at this point. This is where you need competent legal advice from our experienced criminal lawyers.
The confident “suspect” may feel they can handle Police questioning by not making any admissions but even responding to a question asking where you were on a particular night, or do you know a certain person can and most often will, be used as evidence as against you in ways you would not anticipate.
Remember, police hold the cards here whereas the person being interviewed goes in blind.
What Should You Take from All This?
When police want to “speak” to you, seek clarification as to WHY they want to speak to you
Is it for a statement or an interview?
The experienced (and dare I say it slightly cagey) police officer on the other end of the phone may attempt to avoid answering this question but insist (politely) on being told.
As stated above, there is a huge difference and your handling of the situation may well determine your future.
How We Can Help
If you find yourself in the situation where you are required to speak to the police and require expert representation for the interview contact us. Our criminal lawyers have considerable experience successfully representing clients from police interviews through to court proceedings.
We are available to meet with you at any of our local offices (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Beenleigh, Cleveland and Jimboomba) or by telephone or video-conference.
This article is for your information and interest only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and it does not constitute and must not be relied on as legal advice. You must seek specific advice tailored to your circumstances.