Dealing with Police

Legal Resource

Making a Complaint Against Police

Kerri Fredericks – Principal Lawyer

30 September 2019

Kerri Fredericks – Principal Lawyer

30 September 2019

Kerri Fredericks Principal Lawyer in Anderson Fredericks Turner. Prior to operating a law firm she worked as a Crown Prosecutor and Barrister in Queensland. With a background of significant courtroom advocacy, she is independently recommended as a criminal defence lawyer in Australia.

Dealing with Police

Dealing with Police

If you are required to deal with police, it is important to know your legal rights and responsibilities. It is possible to be polite and courteous without forgoing your legal entitlements when dealing with police. However, before you, or someone you know, answer questions by police, it may be worth considering the legal options available to you.

There are a number of ways you may encounter police, including:

  • you are a witness, or potential witness, to a crime;
  • you are a suspect, or possible suspect, of a crime;
  • you have information that may be relevant to a police investigation; or,
  • you have been charged with an offence.

What particular ‘category’ you fit may affect your legal rights and entitlements. You may not know – it may not be clear – you may be mistaken.

We can assist you in dealing with police, including for the following issues (see below):

  • Search Warrants
  • Investigation of Criminal Charges
  • Police Interviews
  • Arrest by Police
  • Bail from Watchhouse
  • Complaints about Police

Getting timely advice from an experienced criminal lawyer can save you from being mistaken about important issues, as well as provide you the guidance you need when dealing with police.

Search Warrants

In Queensland, police have powers to search people and property. While the police are given the right to search people and property under prescribed circumstances, the law also requires them to observe responsibilities when doing so. In certain cases, police must obtain a search warrant prior to conducting a search. In other circumstances, police may not need to obtain a warrant before proceeding with a search.

In situations where police have not met their responsibilities, or have acted beyond their power or have acted unlawfully, evidence obtained or seized during a search may be ruled inadmissible. A case may be dismissed because police have deliberately or even recklessly acted beyond their lawful power.

Our lawyers have experience in examining the use of police powers and, where necessary, challenging the use of evidence obtained on the basis of illegality or impropriety in the exercise of police powers. If you or someone you know has been the subject of a search and want legal advice, contact one of our experienced defence lawyers for advice about a specific case.

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Investigation of Criminal Charges

If you or someone you know is the subject of an investigation, it can be important to get early advice about the rights and responsibilities you may have in the situation, as well as those you are owed by investigators.

Our lawyers can provide confidential advice, including in urgent situations, which will allow you to understand your legal options. Getting authoritative advice at an early time may ultimately save significant time and resources, as well as reduce the stress that a police investigation can create.

During an investigation, our assistance may cover a range of work, including:

  • advice about the possible legal options available to you;
  • gathering witness statements or other evidence; and,
  • representing your interests when dealing with police or other law enforcement agencies.

Police Interviews

A complaint against a police officer, even if substantiated, may not give rise to a criminal offence. In Queensland, complaints against the Queensland Police Service are broken up into three categories:

  1. Corrupt conduct as defined in section 15 of the Crime and Corruption Act. It refers to the actions of someone within a unit of public administration who holds an appointment. Police officers, being public officials, are therefore subject to provisions regarding corrupt conduct, as well as police misconduct.

  2. Police misconduct as defined in schedule 2 of the Crime and Corruption Act. It refers to any conduct (aside from that of corrupt conduct which I mention below) that is disgraceful, improper or unbecoming of a police officer, any conduct showing unfitness to be or continue as a police officer and any conduct which does not meet the standard the community reasonably expects of a police officer. A few examples of this may include police officers acting dishonestly, breaching any level of trust that was placed in them or misusing officially obtained information.

  3. Disciplinary breaches are considered any actions by police that do not amount to either police misconduct or corrupt conduct but are actions that are considered biased, unethical or unprofessional. These kinds of offences are generally dealt with internally by the Queensland Police Service.

If allegations are considered credible, the penalty for police may range from a simple reprimand or counselling through to being charged with a criminal offence and their employment being terminated. For this reason, it is important for anybody seeking to make a complaint to consider how their complaint may be supported by other evidence. Is there camera footage or a recording of what occurred? Did any bruising or injuries get photographed or seen by a doctor? Delay in making a complaint can mean that crucial evidence may be lost.

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Arrest by Police

Being arrested can be confusing, emotional and unexpected. Often, it happens with no warnings and allows no time for preparations with a lawyer. As criminal defence lawyers, we understand the need to be able to assist people in urgent circumstances, often with an immediate response.

Often we are called by family members who are concerned about their loved one who has just been arrested and taken to a Police Watchhouse. Often, family members cannot speak to a person who has been arrested and taken to a watchhouse, however lawyers may be able to speak to them to provide advice and representation.

If we are engaged to advise or represent a person when they are arrested, our focus is primarily on ensuring that their rights and interests are protected, as well as gaining an understanding of the reasons they may have been arrested. We work with our clients to formulate a strategy to deal with the immediate issues arising from arrest, as well as make representations for bail.

Bail from Watchhouse

In certain circumstances, police officers have the power to grant bail from the ‘watchhouse’. In granting bail to a person charged, police can attach conditions to bail that must be complied with following release. Failure to comply with bail conditions can result in bail offences, which can have significant consequences.

Lawyers from Anderson Fredericks Turner can assist people who have been taken to a police station or watchhouse by making representations for bail to be granted by police.

If bail is not granted by the police at a watchhouse, we assist our clients to make a bail application at the earliest time. In such cases, we can quickly assist people apply for bail in courts across Queensland. At every stage, we work to ensure that the liberty of our client is secured and that they are not unnecessarily detained or denied bail.

Complaints about Police

There are many cases in which people who have been the subject of investigation, arrest or prosecution feel aggrieved by their treatment by police. While an experienced criminal lawyer may assist a person in making a complaint about police misconduct or corruption, there are a number of agencies or organisations established whose function is to pursue such issues.

Where a complaint is made about the misconduct of a police officer who is a member of the Queensland Police Service, there are certain duties imposed on police to report the matter to the Commissioner of Police and the Crime and Corruption Commission (see section 7.2 of the Police Service Administration Act 1990 (Qld)). Additionally, the Commissioner of Police has a separate responsibility of reporting complaints of misconduct to the Crime and Corruption Commission (see section 37 of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001 (Qld)).

In Queensland, the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee has oversight of the Crime and Corruption Commission.

In the case of police officers who are members of the Australian Federal Police, the Commonwealth Ombudsman may consider the issues, or it may be dealt with by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

If you wish to obtain legal advice about possible police misconduct and how to enforce your rights, contact our lawyers to discuss your case.

More Information

The information contained on this page is general in nature and specific advice ought to be obtained from a lawyer before acting on any general information with respect to any legal matter.

Anderson Fredericks Turner has lawyers who can provide specific advice with respect to issues involving complaints against police in Queensland. Our lawyers are available for all courts throughout Queensland and we operate from local offices in Brisbane, Beenleigh, Maroochydore, Southport and Townsville.

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