In Australia we have a right to silence. With a few exceptions, you don’t have to answer any questions asked by police. And if you are charged and come before a court, the court can’t draw an adverse inference from a failure to answer questions. I regularly hear people say that the only reason you wouldn’t answer questions is because you have something to hide. I used to give a long convoluted discourse about our right to silence. I now have two words: Prince Andrew. Prince Andrew is the exact reason you should not answer questions, regardless of your guilt or otherwise.
Generally when police want to question you, it’s because they have a suspicion that you are involved in or witnessed criminal activity. I can count on one hand the number of times clients of mine have answered questions of police and, as a result, not been charged. But for the overwhelming majority of people, answering questions will not assist you. If police are going to charge you, they will charge you regardless of what you say. If you talk, any little inconsistency can, and will, be used against you.
Take Prince Andrew (hereinafter referred to as “Prince Andrew 🤦♀️” ). He has been under a cloud of suspicion of late regarding his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender who is suspected of being a prolific paedophile and was facing multiple charges until his recent death in prison in August. Prince Andrew 🤦♀️ has been publicly accused (but not charged) with having sex with an underaged girl. He has resisted requests to talk to police and lawyers for the alleged victim. Fair enough. Any half decent lawyer would have given him this advice.
And then he took part in an interview with the media. WHAT A DEBACLE.
Once you have given a version of events, either publicly or to police, then every little inconsistency will be poked and prodded and used to suggest that you are either not credible or are lying. And Prince Andrew 🤦♀️ doesn’t just have police investigating his version of events now; he has the whole world looking into and double checking everything he said.
Do you know what I would be doing if I was going to cross examine Prince Andrew 🤦♀️? Nothing. I’d probably do a crossword or plan that evening’s dinner. And here’s why: there are a million online armchair detectives who will, and have, scrutinised every little thing he said and cross referenced it with every other little thing he said. He couldn’t have done it because he doesn’t show public displays of affection. He couldn’t have done it because he had a medical condition that meant he didn’t sweat. Sure enough, within hours of that interview, photos emerged of him sweatily hugging women in nightclubs around that time. Medical experts have weighed in. The whole flippin’ world has become his cross examiner.
I’m not suggesting that he is guilty of a crime. But do you think that by giving a public version of events, he has convinced anyone of his innocence? Nope. Do you think there are even more people suspecting that he might be involved? Yep.
You have a right to silence. Don’t do a Prince Andrew 🤦♀️. Keep your mouth shut.
 Those exceptions are beyond the scope of this blog. If you are unsure what questions you must answer, ask police “am I legally obliged to answer?”.