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What to do if police want to speak with you

What to do if police want to speak with you

Kristie Grigor, Gordon Legal Head of Criminal Law

If police contact you and ask you to make a statement, it’s important you understand whether you need to seek legal advice and, if so, when you should seek that advice.

Like all other members of the community, you are expected to abide by the law and not commit criminal offences. As nurses, midwives, or carers, any finding of guilt in a criminal matter, or even just facing criminal charges, can have a lasting impact on your registration and employment.

Am I a witness or am I a suspect?

If you are contacted by police, they may wish to speak with you for one of two reasons: either you’re a potential witness to a criminal offence or you are a suspect in a criminal investigation. Either way, it’s important to understand your rights.

I’m a witness

If you are a potential witness, the police will initially contact you to determine how much you know about a possible crime. If you have any information which may assist their investigation, they may ask you to make a formal police statement. A police statement is a written document stating your version of events regarding a crime.

As a general rule, it is not harmful for you personally to make a statement as a witness.  Your statement may help police to investigate a crime. If you agree to make a statement you must ensure your statement is truthful. If you are concerned that making a statement might implicate you in criminal activity, you should seek legal advice prior to making the statement.

Police do not have the power to force you to make a statement ­– you have the right to remain silent.  You should also always ask for a copy of your statement from the police after you have made one.

I’m an accused person

If you have been accused of committing a crime, police will contact you and arrange a time for you to attend the police station to make a statement or answer some questions.

They’ll often be as vague as asking you to “come down for a chat”.

It’s important to always be polite and respectful in your dealings with the police.

When arranging a convenient time to attend the police station, ensure it will allow you time to contact a lawyer so that you can obtain initial legal advice.

Take down the officer’s contact details and find out from them as much information about the matter as possible, so that you can tell your lawyer.

As an accused person, you have the right to silence. In Victoria, you do not have to answer any questions at all, and your silence cannot be used against you. Sometimes it’s important that you give a “no comment” record of interview.

Other times, it can be crucial that you answer questions.  Whether or not you answer questions is a matter to be discussed with an experienced criminal lawyer.

The process will be daunting and frightening. Speaking with a criminal lawyer prior to your attendance at the police station will arm you with the information you need to ensure you put yourself in the best possible position, right from the start, to minimise the impact on your employment.

If you are contacted by police and you are a suspect in an investigation, you should promptly contact the ANMF for a referral to Gordon Legal.