If you’ve been charged under criminal law, you will be introduced to a process that can feel overwhelming. The purpose of this article is to help you understand your rights and to offer some generalistic tips. Importantly, if you are charged with a crime then your first step should be to get legal advice; an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and explain the implications of any actions you may be considering.
This is Not an American Crime Show
In Queensland, unless the police want to question you in relation to a serious offence, they are under no obligation to “read you your rights.” If arrested, you will be told that you are under arrest and the reason or reasons they are arresting you. Regardless of this, you do have the right to remain silent but you still must tell the police –
– Your name and address
Failure to do so may result in additional charges.
Importantly, they cannot coerce a confession from you by making promises or threatening you, nor can they formally interview without informing you have the right to lawyer, a family member or friend.
Follow the directions of the police officers, tell them who you are, ask for the charges in writing and tell them you wish to speak to a lawyer.
Don’t Assume Anything
If you have been arrested and feel that your rights have been breached, remember there is a time and a place for everything. Do not attempt to rectify the situation in the police car, or – more importantly, resist arrest, as this may result in additional charges. If you have been injured during your arrest, make your Lawyer aware and take pictures of your injuries, you may also wish to ask to see a doctor if your injuries are severe.
Most importantly, pay attention to everything so that you can explain it clearly to your lawyer when you speak with them.
Without an Arrest, Nothing Happens
If the police ask you to accompany them to the police station, you have the right to refuse. In fact, the only time you are obligated to accompany police is when you have been formally arrested. Ask the police to clearly explain whether you are being arrested or asked to accompany them to the police station. If it is the latter, tell them you will speak to your lawyer before taking any further action. it may be that should you refuse to attend, then they will place you under arrest, at which time you are compelled, if you refuse you may be charged with further offences.
In all matters, do your best to comply with police, pay attention to both the charges against you and the circumstances of your arrest, and ask for legal representation as soon as possible.