This information has been produced by the Youth Referral and Independent Persons Program. It is not legal advice.
Young people at a police station 24/7 in Victoria can access free legal advice provided by lawyers from Victoria Legal Aid by calling 1300 79 11 89 and asking to speak to a lawyer.
If your child is going to be interviewed by police
The law in Victoria says that an adult must be with a young person under 18 years when police want to interview the young person about alleged offending. Police must first try and arrange for a parent or guardian to attend to support the young person. If the parent or guardian can’t or doesn’t feel able to support their child at the police station, police are able to organise a trained volunteer from YRIPP to be there instead.
What should you, as a parent, do at a police station to support your child?
- Remember you are at the police station to support your child.
- Make sure your child is ok and check whether they need anything to eat or drink, whether they need to see a doctor or to go to the toilet. If they need these things, ask police to arrange this. If you feel that your child does not understand something or is unwell, tell the police this.
- Encourage your child to contact a lawyer if they want legal advice or don’t understand their rights or the process. They can get free legal advice from the police station over the phone by calling the YRIPP Legal Advice Line. Ask police to call YRIPP on 1300 79 11 89 and ask for legal advice. A lawyer will usually call your child back at the station within ten minutes.
- You and your child have the right to an interpreter if needed. Ask police to arrange this.
What is going to happen at the police station?
- Police should give you a chance to talk to your child in private before the formal interview starts. Ask for this time if police do not offer it to you.
- Once you have spoken to your child, police will interview your child. This interview will usually be recorded and will begin with the formal police caution. This is where the police read out your child’s rights and ask if they understand. You should tell the police if you don’t think your child understands their rights.
During the interview
- Your child must tell the police their name and address.
- Your child has the right not to answer any other questions. They can say ‘no comment’ to all police questions. This should not stop them from receiving bail (that is, being allowed to leave the station). What your child says to the police may be used against them in court. However, the law does not assume that someone is guilty because they answered ‘no comment’ to police questions.
- Your child can ask the police to explain the questions if they do not understand.
- Your child should never just agree with what is being said because they don’t understand or because they think it would be rude not to.
After the interview
- You need to be there if the police want to take your child’s fingerprints.
- A police officer will ask if you and your child were satisfied with the police treatment. If you were not happy with the way that you or your child were treated, it is important that you say this to the police.
- Your child may receive a formal ‘Caution’ – this is a serious warning from the police. This means that your child has admitted to breaking the law but does not have to go to court and will not receive a criminal record.
- If your child does not receive a ‘Caution’, one of the following may happen:
- Your child is charged and receives ‘bail’. This means that they are allowed to leave the station. They will be asked to sign a document in which they promise to go to court on a certain day. Police may want to add other conditions to this ‘bail’.
- Your child leaves the police station without being charged. However, they may later receive a letter explaining that they have been charged. The letter will provide a time and date that they will have to go to court. This letter is called a ‘summons’.
- In some very serious cases, the police may want to keep your child in detention until the next court day when they can appear at the Children’s Court. This is called being ‘remanded in custody’. If this happens you should get legal advice. Also ask the police where your child will be taken and how you can contact them.
- If your child has to attend court, it is important that you go with them.