The most important piece of advice that a lawyer will give you is to not make statements to the police. The police can record anything you say. The police are also allowed to use tricks, such as lying to you, in order to convince you to provide a statement. It can be a stressful and intimidating experience to deal with the police when they are investigating you for an offence and you should usually not give a statement at that point.
What if I want to give a statement?
Giving a statement means answering questions or talking to the police about what happened. You have the right to have a lawyer and your parent(s), or an adult with you before and while you make a statement. The police must tell you about this right. If you want to make a statement, you should wait until a lawyer who you have contacted is present, and you have talked to your lawyer in private.
If you “blurt out” a statement before the police officer has had a chance to tell you about these rights, they may still be able to use your statement against you. Even if they forget to tell you about your rights, a judge might agree that your statement can be used as evidence.
The police are telling me that I can make a statement without talking to a lawyer first. Is this right?
It is legally correct. You can “waive” or give up your right to talk to a lawyer and/or your parent(s) before making a statement, but it is not a good idea to do this. Normally, the police officer has to either videotape you or get you to sign something saying that you agree to this. However, they may be able to use your statement in court even if they do not do this as long as your decision was voluntary.
If I do make a statement to a police officer, how will it be used?
Anything you say that shows you were involved in an offence can be used against you in court. Refusing to sign a written statement will not stop it from being used against you in court. If you want to make a statement, you should wait until you have talked to a lawyer and the lawyer is with you.
Any statement you make to the police can only be used if it is given voluntarily. If you have made a statement without talking to a lawyer first, check with your lawyer after the statement to see if it was made voluntarily.
** If you make a statement in order to be eligible for extrajudicial measures (EJM), your statement can not be used against you in court.