Criminal Law

Does the right to silence exist in Australian criminal law?

Published in: December 2016

Many people will probably be familiar that when faced with police questioning, they are able to exercise the right to silence when being questioned. However, there are a number of other aspects to the right that you may not be aware of. So if you want to learn more about the right to silence when under police questioning, please read on.

Before questioning

Prior to questioning a suspect, the police ought to caution the person that there is no requirement to answer questions, and that any answers provided may be used as evidence if a matter goes before the courts.

Cautioning at the police station

Any written statements or interviews recorded in the police station will conclude with inquiries of whether a caution was provided to the person and was understood, and whether any statements or answers provided during the interview were made voluntarily. For the police, evidence that the caution was provided and understood can be shown to the court if a matter goes to trial that what was provided to the police by an accused was done so freely, and voluntarily.

The right to silence

Broadly speaking, the right to silence for most criminal law matters means that a person does not have to answer any question beyond providing their name and address. It’s handy to keep in mind that for the most part, no adverse inference can be made from the refusal to answer questions.

As a general rule, it may be a good idea to speak to a lawyer before writing or making any verbal statements.     

This piece is only a broad overview of the right to silence. If you are experiencing any difficulties with a criminal law matter, always seek the help of a lawyer who will be able to help. 

Contact Eddy Neumann Lawyers on (02) 9264 9933 or
by email for clear and expert advice.
You will be directed to one of our experienced lawyers who can assist your needs.


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