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Your rights

Always try to get legal advice before speaking to police - there are very few questions that you have to answer; you do not have to answer questions in most circumstances, however you must provide the following information when asked:

  • your personal details i.e. your full name, date of birth and address;
  • the identity of the driver of a motor vehicle; and,
  • whether you are the owner of a firearm and, if not, identify the owner and answer questions in relation to the firearm including identifying other persons who have had possession.

If the police want to search you, your car or home:

  • ask what offence they are investigating
  • ask to see a search warrant
  • always ensure that you are present when they conduct the search
  • the police may only search you if they suspect you have evidence in relation to a crime or if you are under arrest
  • the police must give you a receipt for any seized goods – as soon as possible after seizure compare the receipt with the goods taken

If the police want to arrest you:

  • ask what you are being arrested for
  • do not struggle or argue with the police
  • make a note of the numbers of the police if they are violent or behave improperly with you
  • remember that everything you say to the police will be recorded by them at some stage and may be used against you even if the police do not tell you that they are going to do so. There is no such thing as an 'off the record' conversation
  • if you are not under arrest do not agree to go with the police anywhere unless you want to
  • if the police say you are not under arrest you are free to leave
  • always politely ask the police why they are doing anything
  • the police can only obtain your fingerprints or take your photograph with your consent unless you are arrested
  • DNA samples can be requested without arrest if you are a suspect to a serious crime or have previous convictions (even for non-serious crimes)
  • make a note yourself of what occurred as soon as possible
  • don’t sign anything at the request of police unless you have read it in full and agree to the contents

If a civilian (such as a store detective) wants to arrest you:

  • he or she can only do so if you were observed committing a crime by the person arresting you
  • that person can only take you to a police station (although it would be considered reasonable to wait for the police to attend)
  • that person has no right to ask you any questions and you are not obliged to answer any if they do
  • that person has no right to search you or your belongings, they must wait until the police arrive
Your rights  :  Last Revised: Mon Aug 8th 2016
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.