Criminal Law – FAQs

Q. I’ve just been arrested by the police. What are my rights?

A. Perhaps the most important right you have is a general right to silence. There are exceptions to this which we will discuss below. Generally the police should caution you that you do not have to say anything.

If you suspect or know you have done something wrong you would normally be wise to decline to speak to the police about the matter. This however is something you should speak to Adams & Partners Lawyers about at your earliest possible opportunity as we will be able to advise you of whether your best interest will be served by speaking to the Police and if so, what questions to avoid, to avoid you being misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Whichever course you choose, you should be as polite as possible. To do otherwise can only antagonise the police and place you in a more vulnerable position. At the police station a police officer has the duty of informing you fully of your rights. Among these is the right to telephone a lawyer or friend. This is a right to be carefully considered. You also have the right to be either given bail or otherwise brought before the next available court so that the issue of bail can be reviewed.

Q. When Can the Police Request I Break My Right to Silence?

A. One of the most common cases is when a Police officer can request you provide your personal details when you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident. A police officer can also request you provide your name and address if the police officer believes on reasonable grounds that you may be able to assist in the investigation of an alleged offence due to the fact you were at or near a location at the time when a criminal offence has occurred. In these circumstances, it would be an offence to refuse to supply a name and address or to supply false information.

Q. How Long Can Police Keep Me In Custody?

A. Following arrest, the police may detain you for an initial period of up to four (4) hours to conduct their investigations. Police do have the right to apply for an extension of this initial period which can be granted for a further eight (8) hours. Following the expiration of this time, you must either be charged or released.

Q. What Happens If I am Charged?

A. If you are charged, you will be processed by Police which will generally include having your fingerprints and photograph taken. Following this, you will usually be released on bail, which may or may not include conditions such as periodic reporting to the Police. If you are refused bail, or cannot meet the conditions set, you will be brought before a court on the next available occasion where you can apply for bail.

Q. I’ve been charged and given a day to go to court. What should I do?

A. It is highly desirable that you seek legal advice and representation as soon as possible. It is our experience that the earlier the intervention in your matter by a Lawyer the better the outcome that can be achieved.

We will arrange an appointment and get things moving with a view to getting the best possible outcome for you. Do not delay obtaining legal advice after you are charged or given a summons.

Q. What is the difference between a charge and a summons?

A. A charge would normally involve you being fingerprinted and photographed and either being given or refused bail. A summons is a document usually served on you personally sometime after being questioned by the police. Often this involves a police officer coming to your home and serving the summons on you. Whether you are charged or summonsed you will be informed of the date and court you have to attend and the charge(s) you face.

Q. I am being harassed by my neighbour. He just won’t seem to listen to reason. What can I do to stop it?

A. The Crimes Act provides for the court making Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs). These orders can consist of conditions which restrain a particular person from doing certain things e.g. assaulting or approaching a particular person. Depending on the nature and extent of the harassment, it may be that you are able to convince a court to make such an order. This is something we at Adams & Partners Lawyers can help you with. Disobeying an AVO can potentially lead to a gaol sentence. Often that threat is enough to change the ways of the person harassing you. Don’t suffer in silence. Seek legal advice and it may be that you can put an end to the problem quickly.

Q. Do You Do Legal Aid

A. If you are entitled to legal aid, you may choose to ask Legal Aid to assign the matter to a particular solicitor. We at Adams & Partners Lawyers can assist you and can accept a grant of Legal Aid.

Joseph Mazurkiewicz is a founding partner and a Director of Adams & Partners Lawyers. Find out more about Joseph here.