Is it true that saying “no comment” means that you are guilty?
No, it’s not true. It is joked about though and unfortunately that is probably where the misconception comes from.
What it really means is that you are maintaining your right to silence.
The right to silence is essentially the right not to answer questions put to you by the police. This right is still generally operative in Jersey and in that respect Jersey differs from some other jurisdictions such as England, where if you choose not to answer police questions, it can be the subject of negative inferences by a jury at a trial.
The right to silence arises from one of the basic tenets of our criminal law, which is that it is for the prosecution to prove the case against you.
You are reminded of this right to silence when you are arrested and cautioned because the caution used by the Jersey police is as follows: “You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so, but what you say may be put into writing and given in evidence.”
You should be re-cautioned when you are formally interviewed by the police, so that your right to silence is fresh in your mind.
Whether or not you should exercise your right to silence is something that you think about carefully, with the benefit of legal advice. Each case is individual and fact dependant and the aim should be to arrive at a decision which is best for you, in the particular circumstances of your case.
If you are facing the prospect of a police interview (or an interview by any other investigatory body) and you wish to discuss your rights, please give Rebecca Morley-Kirk a call on 630530.