Right to silence

The right of a suspect to refuse to answer police questions and of an accused not to testify or to make an unsworn statement during trial. The right to silence in Australia is not Constitutional, but is derived from common law, and codified in relevant federal, state, and territory legislation. The right to silence is an important extension of the privilege against self-incrimination, and the presumption of the accused’s innocence until guilt is proven.

As a general rule, in all Australian jurisdictions, judges cannot direct juries to make adverse inferences about a defendant exercising their right to silence. However, some exceptions will apply where a defendant has answered some questions, but not others, or where a special caution applies.

The right to silence is significantly statutorily abrogated in the area of bankruptcy.