Your rights during a police investigation
If have not yet been arrested or charged with a criminal offence, but are under investigation by police, you have certain rights that must be met by the police.
These rights may vary depending on the nature of the investigation and the evidence to be obtained.
As a general rule, you have the following rights:
You have the right to ask for legal advice
If you are contacted by the police investigating a criminal matter, you should always ask to speak to a specialist criminal lawyer.
Engaging a lawyer at an early stage may make a material difference to the outcome of the investigation. An experienced lawyer will liaise with police on your behalf and obtain as much information about the investigation as possible. A lawyer will assist you to make an informed decision about whether or not you should participate in a record of interview or provide a statement, and will give you information about what you should expect from the police investigation.
Like many things in life, the earlier the better. A lawyer who is engaged prior to you being charged with an offence will be able to engage with the police and ensure that your rights are protected at all stages of the process.
You have the right to silence
If you are suspected of committing a criminal offence, anything that you say to the police may be used against you.
The right to silence is one of the most fundamental aspects of the criminal justice process.
By law, you must provide your name, address and date of birth to the police. If you are in a motor vehicle, you must also provide your driver licence upon request.
You do not have to give any further information or participate in a record of interview with the police.
In our experience, the decision to remain silent may have a significant impact on the police investigation. You should always seek legal advice before answering any questions by the police.
You can find more information about participating in a police interview here.
You are presumed innocent
A cornerstone of our criminal justice system is the presumption of innocence. This is closely related to the right to silence. As a matter of law, you do not have to prove your innocence. The police must first gather sufficient evidence against you to charge you with an offence. The prosecution must then prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt at your trial.
What other rights do I have?
As a general rule, if you have been charged with a criminal offence, you have the right to:
- Know what you have been charged with and why you are under arrest;
- Be taken to court as soon as possible for a bail application;
- Ask for a friend, relative or lawyer if you are about to be questioned in relation to an indictable offence.
If you are a family member or friend of a person who has been taken into custody, you can find more information here.
If you are under investigation by the police. or have been taken into custody, we may be able to provide you with free, no-obligation, urgent legal advice. Call us now on (07) 3190 9242 or email us for a fast response.
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