If the police come knocking on your door, know your rights. And you have a right to silence.

Hello, I’m Gavin Hanrahan. I’m a litigation solicitor, and I do a lot of criminal litigation. However, this video is for the benefit of people who are not represented by a lawyer and who are approached by the police to answer questions.

Answering questions could be as simple as a question asked of you while you’re walking down the street. “Jimmy, where were you last night?”. Or it could be a formal request for you to take part in a recorded interview. Either way, if the police come knocking on your door asking you questions about something, you do not have to answer their questions or make a statement. You have a right to silence.

The right to silence is just that: the right to remain silent, the right to not say anything, the right to not give the police any information. The right to not answer the police questions. And it’s not an admission of guilt to not talk to the police. Our criminal justice system works on the basis that the police must prove that you are guilty. You are not required to prove that you are innocent.

If you do not want to answer the questions, you should say so to the police. You should say to the police, “I do not wish to answer your questions”, or “I do not wish to be interviewed”. Not being interviewed is preferable to saying no comment to a thousand questions. And you do not have to go into the interview room to record your refusal, despite what the police might say to you.

When choosing whether to answer the police questions or not, remember, it’s your choice. But if you do say something, the police can use it against you or others in court. The one exception to the general right to silence is identification. In many situations, the police do have a power to demand your identification. That is your name and address.

In summary, if the police come knocking, know your rights and you have a right to silence. At best, the police will be entitled to see some identification if you have it on you and to know your name and address.

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