Drug Possession in Nightclubs – Need Legal Help? We provide the best Sydney Criminal Lawyers
With lockdown over, nightclubs and events are back, but if you find yourself in trouble what are your rights?
Police officers with sniffer dogs are usually seen at music festivals, nightclubs and other events where there is reason to believe drugs might be used or distributed. Police officers are allowed to search and question you if they have reason to believe Drug possession in nightclubs.
Police officers are only legally allowed to search you if they have a reasonable suspicion that you may be in possession of drugs. If the police have not stated why they are searching you, you have the right to ask.
Reasonable excuses for the police to search you for drugs can include:
o Suspicious behavior (e.g. actively avoiding police or sniffer dogs)
o A sniffer dog has sat next to you
o They may consider the location and time
o Whether you are already known to police
However, it is important to note that just being in a location (like a music festival) is not reason enough to warrant a search.
A strip search is also legally allowed in certain circumstances. A strip search is when an officer asks you to remove an item of clothing that is not outerwear (e.g. jumper/jacket). Police are not allowed to do a strip search unless they have reasonable grounds. A sniffer dog indication does not warrant a strip search and police cannot perform one using this reason alone.
If a strip search is completely necessary it must be done by an officer of the same gender and in a private area where only the searching officer and any other essential officers (provided they are the same gender as you) can see you. They are not legally allowed to make you squat and cough, touch your body or perform a cavity search without your consent or a court warrant. During a strip search you are allowed to have a legal representative with you, especially if you are under 18.
Police officers often use sniffer dogs to assist them in finding a reasonable excuse to search someone for drugs. However, it is well known that sniffer dogs are terribly inaccurate, yet remain a reasonable excuse to search a person. Complaints made by 30 people to the NSW Ombudsman found that 24 (80%) of these 30 individuals were searched on the grounds that a sniffer dog believed they had drugs in their possession but were found not to be carrying any drugs. These false and public searches made by police can be highly distressing and humiliating. Complaints such as these can be put into the NSW Ombudsman should you feel you were unreasonably searched or a sniffer dog indicated incorrectly that you were carrying drugs.
What if the sniffer dog touches you?
A sniffer dog should never touch you. It is up to the officer in charge of a sniffer dog to keep them under control. They are never required to touch you when performing a sniff of you or your surrounding area. If a sniffer dog does touch you in any way you have the right to make an official complaint. However, you must get as much information as possible, including the name and rank of the officer in charge of the dog and the names and contact details of anyone who may have witnessed the incident. The complaint may be made to the local police station or to the NSW Ombudsman.
You must always remain calm and cooperative with police if they engage with you, do not ever physically resist them. If you do not consent to a search, it is recommended that you say “I do not consent to this search, however I will cooperate and will not resist you”
You are allowed to refuse a search, although this means that the officers may take you back to the station and could search you by force there. Again, do not physically resist them.
You have the right to remain silent and request to speak to your lawyer.
Officers are not allowed to question you whilst they perform any type of search, they must allow you to get redressed (if a strip search was performed) as soon as possible and only then may they question you. This is to preserve your rights and ensure the search is as minimally invasive and as fast as possible to minimize humiliation.
If you feel you have been the subject of an unreasonable search or feel your rights have been violated, call Able Defence Lawyers for help in what to do next. We provide the best Sydney criminal lawyer services.
Contact Able Defence Lawyers now on 02 4626 5335 for a free consultation.
Links used: http://www.fair-play.org.au/powers https://www.ombo.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/4457/Review-of-the-Police-Powers-Drug-Detection-Dogs-Part-1_October-2006.pdf https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/police-drug-dogs-and-your-rights-if-they-touch-you/
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