Which rights do I have in a police interrogation?
When you are questioned by the police (regardless of whether you are a suspect, witness or victim), you are always entitled to prior confidential consultation with your lawyer and assistance during the interrogation. Which, of course, is always useful.
You always have the following rights in a police interrogation:
- To remain silent (you may not be forced to make statements)
- The police must inform you
- You can ask for a free interpreter
- You may request one postponement if you have not been deprived of your liberty and are being interrogated without prior written invitation
- A break during the interrogation
- You may always read and correct the text of the interrogation
- You can come and go as you please as long as you are not arrested
What rights do I still have if I do become a suspect?
If you do find yourself suspected of a crime that carries a prison sentence, you can be assigned a lawyer through the so-called Salduz web application, a digital waiting system where a lawyer is available 24 hours a day. By the way, this is not compulsory; you may also choose your own lawyer at any time.
If you are arrested and the lawyer is not present within the 2 hours due to circumstances, there can still be a confidential telephone consultation with the on-call service and the interrogation can then start.
Do I need a lawyer?
Consulting with and being assisted by a lawyer is always useful to best guarantee your rights during an interrogation. A lawyer knows what is allowed and what is not allowed during a police interrogation.
Having a lawyer certainly does not mean you are guilty or suspicious either. A police interrogation can be stressful and under pressure you may say confusing or untrue things.
A lawyer will, at least, help you make a structured coherent statement, protect you from any pressure from the police and check that they follow the rules. Your lawyer may intervene if your rights are violated and may interrupt the interrogation once for an additional confidential consultation.
We strongly advise against waiving your right to a lawyer for all these reasons. Moreover, if you are under 18, you cannot waive the assistance of a lawyer. The latter will accompany you during a police interrogation anyway.
Am I entitled to a lawyer if I am not a suspect?
Yes, but you will have to contact a lawyer yourself in the following cases:
- You are not suspected but the police want to question you because you are a victim, witness ... are
- You are suspected of a crime that does not carry a prison sentence.
Want to know more about Salduz or confidential consultation?
The Salduz Act protects someone who is suspected and therefore interrogated. This law states that, as a suspect, you have the right to confidential prior consultation with a lawyer and the right to assistance by that lawyer during the interrogation.