This video explains your rights in dealings with Police.
Transcript of Video
Baia (Lawyer): We’ve all seen lots of TV programs about police and how they go about interacting with the public. Some of the shows are clearly over the top and not a true representation of how police officers operate. In this film, Legal Aid Tasmania is going to explain your rights when it comes to the police and you.
Mature Male Adult: If a police officer asks me to go for questioning, do I have to go?
Baia: You don’t have to go anywhere with a police officer for questioning unless you have been placed under arrest. The police must advise you that you are under arrest. If unsure, ask! Prior to attending a police station for questioning by request of the police, you should seek legal advice. Police also have additional powers to detain you for things like being intoxicated in public.
Mature Male Adult: What sort of things do I have to tell the police?
Baia: The police can ask you anything they like, but you are not obliged to answer. The only things you must tell an officer when questioned are basic details such as your name, address and date of birth.
There are certain situations where it is an offence NOT to tell the police this information. These are things such as, when you’re in a licensed premises, driving a vehicle and so on. Check out our website for more details. But remember, just like in the TV shows, anything you DO say, maybe used in evidence down the track if your case ends up in court. There is no such thing as “off the record”.
Mature Male Adult: How do I know if I’m under arrest?
Baia: The police officer will say the words, “You are under arrest”. If you’re unsure, make sure you ask. If you refuse to go with the police, you could be charged with “resisting arrest”.
Young Male Adult: I guess not everyone’s happy about getting arrested. So, can the police use physical force when they make an arrest?
Baia: Yes they can, but only under certain circumstances. For example, if you try and run away or struggle, the police are permitted to use reasonable force to make the arrest. Same goes if you lash out and attack the officers. And if you try and stop the police from arresting someone else, you can be charged with resisting arrest or obstructing a police officer. Reasonable force can also be used if you refuse to be fingerprinted, photographed or supply blood samples. It’s important to remember that officers can use whatever force is reasonably necessary to make an arrest. So the more you resist, the worse it could get for you.
Young Adult Male: In TV shows, people who get arrested always ask to make a phone call. Is that for real?
Baia: Yes, you definitely have the right to make a phone call to a lawyer, or a family member, or a friend to tell them what’s happened. In some cases though, the police can refuse your right to make a call for up to 4 hours. If the police have reason to suspect you’re going to make a call so you can have evidence destroyed, or give other people a heads up about the investigation so THEY can avoid arrest, they can initially deny your request to make a call.
16 y.o. Female: So I’m 16 years old and the police want to interview me, can I ask for help?
Bair: Absolutely. If you’re under 17 the police shouldn’t interview you unless you have a parent, guardian or legal representative there with you. You should ask to have someone present as soon as you are arrested.
Young Adult Male: Ok, what about taking my fingerprints and all that DNA stuff that you see on TV? Do I have to do that?
Baia: If you have been charged with an offence, you must supply fingerprints and any other type of evidence gathering processes. If you refuse, police have the power to force you to have your prints taken. And if you’re under 15 years of age you can’t be fingerprinted unless you and a parent consent to it being done.
Young Adult Male: Well that sounds fair enough. What happens if I get injured during the arrest or when I’m in custody?
Baia: You are allowed to ask the police to get you medical attention. If you are injured while being arrested, it’s important to write down what happened as soon as possible and seek legal advice.
Baia: It’s a given in today’s society that the police have a job to do and a lot of the time, it’s not an easy one.
For the majority of people, it’s unlikely they will find themselves in the situations we’ve talked about today. But it’s important to know your rights when it comes to dealing with police.
Legal Aid Tasmania can help you with any questions you have on dealing with police and a whole range of other legal issues. If in doubt, give us a shout!!