Police Statements (Qld)
In Queensland, if you are a victim of a crime, a witness to a crime, or accused of a crime, you may be asked by the police to make a formal written statement or to be interviewed. It is crucial that you understand your rights before you make any police statements. This is of particular importance if you are the accused and the police request that you make a statement or participate in an electronically recorded interview.
Once a complainant has made a formal complaint to the police, the police will then conduct a criminal investigation. The police will contact the person and ask them to attend the station to provide a police statement to give their version of events if they are the accused or about the events they witnessed if they are a witness. The statement will be written and signed by the person and will form part of the evidence relied upon by the prosecution to secure a conviction against an accused.
Accused persons and police statements
If you are accused of committing a crime, and you are asked to participate in an electronically recorded interview, the police must caution you before the interview starts. They must inform you of your right to have a lawyer or support person attend with you and that you have the right to silence (ie. not participating in the interview.) Further, they must warn you that anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. If you agree to continue with the interview after being cautioned, the police will rely on what you have said and can charge you based on any admissions you have made and use your statement as evidence in court proceedings. The police statement will become available to your defence lawyers and in some circumstances, to the court during proceedings.
A person cannot be forced to give a statement to the police. You can at any time exercise your right to remain silent and not participate in an interview or give a written statement. If you are contacted by the police requesting that you participate in an electronic recorded interview and/or provide a statement you should always contact a lawyer for advice first. The police cannot arrest you for the purpose of taking a statement. You can be arrested if the police reasonably believe that you are about to commit a crime or that you have committed a crime and they consider that they have the evidence to proceed with a formal charge against you.
If you chose to exercise your right to silence and not be interviewed or make a statement, the court cannot take the view you have not co-operated with the police or obstructed the course of justice. If it is the case that during court proceedings a statement is required from you, your defence lawyer can take your written statement and provide it to the court.
Witnesses and police statements
If you have witnessed a crime, you may be asked by the police to provide a written statement to assist in the investigation. You will not be charged with any offence if you are truthful and honest in giving your statement. However, it is an offence to make a false statement to the police or to obstruct the course of justice. Should the matter proceed to trial, you may be called to give oral evidence. You cannot be forced to give a statement to the police about something you have witnessed. However, the police can issue a subpoena to the court forcing you attend court to give truthful evidence under oath.
Sections 193 of the Criminal Code 1899 states:
Any person who, on any occasion on which a person making a statement touching any matter is required by law to make it on oath or under some sanction which may by law be substituted for an oath, or is required to verify it by solemn declaration or affirmation, makes a statement touching such matter which, in any material particular, is to the person’s knowledge false, and verifies it on oath or under such other sanction or by solemn declaration or affirmation, is guilty of a crime.
The maximum penalty for making a false statement under oath is seven years imprisonment.
Victim impact statements
If you are a victim of a crime, the police can take a victim impact statement from you. A victim impact statement (VIS) is drafted in your own words and relates to the impact the crime has had on your life. A VIS can include the details of physical injuries that you have suffered, as well as the emotional impact the crime has had on you and your family, and on other relationships such as work or social relationships. You can also include supporting documentation, such as medical statements or photographs.
A VIS can only relate to the offences to which the accused is pleading guilty or has been found guilty. It must not include information relating to previous offences that the accused has committed, your opinion of the accused, offensive language, or unrelated matters.
A VIS is a victim’s opportunity to inform the court about the impact the crime has had on them and will be tendered to the court to assist the magistrate or judge in an exercise in sentencing discretion. It is important that the VIS is accurate and truthful.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.