We look at the right to silence under Western Australian law and how you should deal with questions from the police.
It is a question people often ask. So, should you talk to the police? The answer, according to experienced Perth criminal lawyer Max Crispe, is always “no”.
“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”, says Mr Crispe.
While you may think that not saying anything puts you in a bad light, Mr Crispe cautions members of the public to “put that completely out of your mind”. The right to silence means that a court cannot draw an inference from your failure to speak with police.
“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.” Max Crispe, Max Crispe Barristers & Solicitors
If it’s necessary to talk to them later on, your lawyer can arrange that and with the appropriate safeguards.
So what should you do when approached by the police?
You must only provide your name, date of birth and address.
To all other questions, you should reply “I do not wish to say anything and I wish to get legal advice”, says Mr Crispe. If you are in a room with a video recorder, you should say “I do not wish to say anything. I wish to get legal advice and I wish the camera to be switched off”.
It is important not to be tricked. Police might ask “is English your first language?” or tell you “don’t you want to hear what the allegation is?”. Mr Crispe advises that it does not matter what is the question is, “the answer you should give is the same”.
While there is no magic formula, you should be adamant in your refusal to speak. You can, however, 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”.
If they do charge you, simply say afterwards “I do not wish to say anything and please turn the camera off.”
The only exception is in traffic cases, where in addition to your name, date of birth and address, you should indicate whether or not you were the driver of the vehicle. For example, just say “I was the driver”. You do not need to say anything else.
Max Crispe and Kate Crispe are key contacts at Max Crispe Barristers & Solicitors, based in Subiaco, Perth. The firm advises on all criminal and related court matters.
This article has been derived from useful material published on Max Crispe Barristers & Solicitors’ website. The information therein is not intended to be legal advice and is reproduced for informational purposes only. Seek your own legal advice.