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Know Your Rights !

Are you facing criminal charges ?  

This is a highly stressful situation, so it’s important for you to Know your rights ! 

Download our Free e-book on our Home page for our comprehensive guide to Knowing Your Rights !!

Before you consent to be interviewed by Police call Able Defence Lawyers for the best advice for your situation.  Read on for a summary of Your Rights:

Know your Rights !  You have the right to not be unreasonably searched …

If an officer wants to pat you down or search your pockets, tell them “I do not consent to any searches, but I will not resist.” This phrase asserts your rights and also informs the officer that there won’t be a physical altercation.

If a Police drug detection dog, indicates that you may have drugs on your person. This will give the Police reasonable grounds to allow the police to search you lawfully.

If an officer asks to search your car, tell them no. Although police only need to give a random breath test to pull you over, they must meet the tougher “reasonable suspicion” standard to legally search your car. If the officer asked you for permission to search, they probably don’t have reasonable suspicion or they would simply search your car without asking. If the officer begins searching without asking for permission, tell them that you do not consent to any searches. This will clear up any doubt on whether you consented to the search.

Police can search you and your car, boat and possessions only if they have a warrant, consent (from you) or “reasonable suspicion”. The Police must have reasonable grounds to suspect that:

  • You are carrying stolen goods or good unlawfully obtained through the sale of drugs for example.
  • You have prohibited drugs on you.
  • You have an item that has been or may have been used in a serious crime.
  • Knives, weapons or any dangerous implements.
  • A laser pointer.
  • There are circumstances in a public place or school area where there may be a risk to public safety.
  • The police suspect that someone in the car is wanted for arrest.

Know your Rights ! If you are Arrested …

A Police officer may use the appropriate amount of force necessary to arrest you. However, unreasonable or excessive force is an assault. Even if you are not guilty of a criminal offence it is wise that you submit and do not resist. Resisting arrest is a criminal offence and you may be further charged. Any violence towards the Police can result in assault charges being placed against you.

The Police may arrest you under the following circumstances:

  • You are committing an illegal offence.
  • You have or there are reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed an offence.
  • You are breaching the peace.
  • Breached bail conditions.
  • There is a warrant issued for your arrest.
  • There is the need to serve an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) on you.
  • There is the need to serve a provisional (urgent) Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) on you.

A private citizen can arrest you if:

  • You have committed an offence.
  • You are in the act of committing an offence.

The Police can search you when you have been arrested.

 Know your Rights ! Police searches once you are under arrest …

The police officer who is conducting the search must provide their name and where the search is being conducted. They must also tell you the reason for doing the search. As far as practicable the police officer carrying out the search should be of the same gender. The search will generally be a pat down, the request for the removal of outer clothing and a search through your belongings.

There are special provisions that need to be applied when searching a person between the ages of 10 – 17 years or a person who is intellectually impaired.

If it is reasonably necessary the police may request for a strip search depending on the seriousness of the circumstances. This will need to be conducted in a private area and out of the sight of other people not required to assist. This search will also be conducted by an officer of the same gender as the person being searched.

Know your Rights !  You have the right to remain silent …

If you have been placed under arrest generally you have the right to silence. You should be advised by the police that you do not have to take part in an interview in order to be questioned about the offence. You should also be warned that anything you say to the police can be used in evidence against you. If you are unsure, it is best to wait until you have been given legal advice before answering any interview questions.  You should provide your name and address only.  If you are not free to leave, then you can assume you are under arrest, whether the Police tell you this or not.

Note: If your lawyer is present whilst the police interview you, the police can administer a ‘special caution’. The effect of the special caution is that if you fail or refuse to tell the police all the facts and details within the concerning matter and then these facts are relied upon within your defense before the court, it may permit your silence to be used against you. This ‘special caution’ cannot be used against you if your lawyer is not present. The police can only administer this special caution if 1) You have been given the opportunity to obtain legal advice and 2) After you have been given the ‘special caution’ in the presence of your solicitor.  Hence the reason why your solicitor may not attend the police station and they will advise you to deny any offence if appropriate, and to decline any further police interview.

Know your Rights !  Questioning and electronically recorded interviews …

The Police can ask you to accompany them back to the Police station for questioning but, you are not required to go with them unless you have been arrested for a criminal offence.

Do not consent to questioning or an electronically recorded interview even if you have nothing to hide. Do ensure that you speak to a lawyer before you speak to the police. This is a must, more so than having your lawyer sit with you during the interview. This is because due to recent NSW law changes, having your lawyer present at interview will waive certain rights which are no benefit to you and your matter.

There are circumstances where you are required to give the police your name and address when questioned. Such as:

  • Involvement in a traffic incident.
  • If you are determined to have committed a traffic offence.
  • You are accompanying a learner driver.
  • The vehicle you are driving is suspected stolen or involved in a serious criminal offence.
  • If you are suspected of committing an offence on a train or on state rail property.
  • If you are consuming or carrying alcohol and are assumed to be under the age of 18.

Know your Rights !  Anytime you deal with police …

  • You are being filmed and recorded. Don’t obstruct, resist, argue, beg, or verbally abuse the police, even if you think they deserve it. A jury may see the video, and it’s much harder for them to get on the bandwagon of a jerk. Let your solicitor argue for you in court.
  • Never consent to any search, even if you have nothing to hide.
  • Always remain calm and be polite.
  • Ask to speak with your solicitor before answering any questions other than your name, address, and birthdate.

Know your Rights !  If the police come to your home …

  • You don’t have to let police inside your home without a warrant. There are very few exceptions to this rule. One example is when someone’s life is in immediate danger.
  • If they don’t have a warrant, don’t let them inside. If they claim to have one, ask them to hold it up to a window or slide it under the front door.
  • You don’t have to talk with the police. If you do decide to talk with them at your home, step outside and shut the door on your way out.
  • Don’t consent to any search of the house even if you have nothing to hide.
  • If they use force, don’t resist or obstruct, even if they violate your rights. Let your solicitor highlight these facts later in court.

Know your Rights !  If you are stopped in your car …

  • Pull over quickly and safely; turn off the car and put the keys on your dashboard; turn on your interior lights and wait; give him your driver’s license; before moving your hands from the steering wheel, tell the officer where you are reaching.
  • If asked “Do you know why I pulled you over?” don’t makes guesses on why the officer pulled you over?
  • Do not consent to a search even if you have nothing to hide.
  • You do not have to submit to a breath analysis test when stationary in your car or on your own property (drive way for example).
  • Be polite; you are being filmed, and juries don’t like mean people.

Know your Rights !  If a police officer detains you in public …

  • Remain calm and don’t run away, argue, or resist. Don’t put your hands in your pockets.
  • If the officer asks your name, date of birth, or address, politely answer them. If they then continue to ask you further questions, ask the officer if you are free to leave. If they don’t let you leave, tell the officer you won’t answer any more questions without your solicitor.
  • The police can pat you down if they reasonably believe you are dangerous or have a weapon. Don’t resist, but tell the officer out loud “I won’t resist, but I don’t consent to any search.”

Know your Rights !  If a police officer asks you for consent to search (person, home, or car) …

  • Do not consent to any search, ever.
  • Even if the officer seems really nice and makes you feel bad for saying no, do not consent to a search.
  • If the officer is intimidating and accuses you of having “something to hide” because you won’t consent to a search, still do not consent.
  • If the police officer ignores your answer and begins searching, do not resist or obstruct. Illegal searches often result in inadmissible evidence. Let your solicitor address the facts in court.

Remember, Know your Rights !  If you are arrested …

  • You have the right to remain silent, so use it! Tell the officer you aren’t answering any questions without talking to your solicitor.
  • You have the right to legal advice, even if you can’t afford one. Ask to talk with a lawyer before answering any questions.

Don’t forget to Download our Free e-book for your comprehensive guide to Knowing your Rights !   And call us for the best advice for your situation !