If a person's legal rights are denied, or a statement is obtained in unfair circumstances resulting in a confession or admission by the person, the court can decide not to admit that evidence. Anyone representing an accused person should ensure that the person was not denied any legal rights.
An immediate complaint should be made to the officer concerned and his or her superior.
A complaint may also be lodged with the Police Ombudsman, see complaints against police. The longer a complaint is delayed, the easier it is for the police to suggest in any later inquiry that the complaint is untrue. Before lodging a full complaint it is advisable to talk to a lawyer if your complaint relates to either yourself or another being charged with an offence arising from the incident. Verbal complaints should be confirmed in writing, if possible, by a lawyer. A full statement of what occurred should be made.
However, if a person is charged with an offence, legal advice should always be obtained before filing a police complaint, as the statement can be used in proceedings against the person.
If the person has been injured by the police, a doctor should be seen as soon as possible and if any external injuries are evident, photographs should be taken, preferably by a professional photographer or pathologist, Anyone who saw the person not long before the arrest should be asked to look at the injuries and to state (in writing) whether they saw them beforehand.
Sometimes civil court action can be taken, for example, trespass to person or property, assault, wrongful arrest or unlawfully restraining someone false imprisonment.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.