Police officers have certain powers when it comes to asking questions and it’s important to cooperate as best you can. But while answering questions is the correct way to proceed, it’s important to know your rights and understand how to act in what are often very tense situations.
Here we take a look at 10 things to remember if you get stopped by police in Western Australia.
1. Stay calm and polite
If you’ve just been pulled over by police, it’s tempting to jump to the worst-case scenario in your head. That’s understandably quite stressful.
No matter the circumstances, it’s important to always remain calm and speak politely to the officer/s questioning you. Even if you’re certain you’ve done nothing illegal, try not to take a defensive or reactive tone – as this can inflame the situation and only make things worse.
The best way forward is to take a deep breath and cooperate as best you can.
2. You may not need to answer all their questions
While police can ask you anything and at anytime – this does not necessarily mean you have to answer everything you’re asked. Even if the question is unrelated to your situation, you have the right not to divulge information in the heat of the moment.
Specifically, you have the right not to be questioned while being searched, and more generally, you needn’t answer all questions related to a possible offence – rather you can refuse to answer by saying: “I don’t wish to answer” or “no comment”. Police officers conducting the questioning should inform you of this right by saying:
‘You are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so, but whatever you say will be recorded and may later be used as evidence.’
3. Know what questions you have to answer
There are, however, some questions that you are required to answer when asked. For example questions regarding:
- Personal details, name, date of birth and current address;
- Proof of age when at a licensed venue like a bar;
- The sale or supply of illegal substances – only if police are carrying a warrant;
- Customs offences (import and exports of illegal goods);
- Where a firearms offence has occurred.
4. Always pull over as soon as it is safe
Seeing the red flashing lights in the rearview mirror is never fun. It is important to act in a careful and timely manner when pulling over; taking the first opportunity is always best. If you give the impression that you are trying to evade the police this can end badly. As you pull over, make sure you aren’t obstructing traffic or creating a traffic hazard. It can be helpful to exit therein road and park safely on a side road to keep away from fast-moving traffic. Make sure to indicate and give the Police plenty of notice of your intentions.
5.Pulled over? Always give your name and address
Getting pulled over or questioned by police is a scary thing – and while acting ignorant is a typical response to many traffic offences, you are best advised to use discretion with your answers and if asked – always give your name and current address truthfully. Failure to do so, or providing false or misleading information will amount to an offence.
6. If asked – always produce a form of ID
Police officers may ask for a form of identification – which you should produce if possible. This could be a driver’s licence or a passport. If you don’t have a valid form of identification – for example, if you are pulled over without a valid driver’s licence you may be taken back to the Police Station for further questioning and identification.
7. You might be asked to perform a breath/drug test
Police officers have the power to perform a breath and or drug test if they suspect you to be violating the law – for example by driving under the influence. If asked, you must perform a breath test, provide a blood or fluid sample. If you are pulled over, there are no grounds to refuse this test.
8. Your answers can be used against you in court
It’s important to remember that any of your answers given to a police officer can be used against you in a court of law. That’s why it’s always a good idea to get legal advice before you say anything to police officers. Without proper legal advice it’s possible to further incriminate yourself – and end up facing heavier charges than necessary. Aside from providing basic details like your name, address and other details where obligated – you should refrain from answering questions that are not legally required to be answered at the time.
9. Know when you’re being mistreated
Mistreatment can happen to anyone and it’s important to know if you are a victim as this can have extreme consequences in a case if it ends up in court. For example, the court may decide to exclude the information as evidence if it was found to be obtained unlawfully.
There are many ways a police officer could obtain information illegally:
- Police asked questions without first telling you your rights;
- You did not understand your rights and answered questions not knowing that you didn’t have to;
- Police threatened or bribed you to get information;
- Police demand answers from you when you don’t have to.
10. Seek assistance from a criminal lawyer
If you are questioned by police, it is important to know where you stand legally. If the situation ends up going to court, it’s critical to have an experienced criminal lawyer backing you up.
Don’t let the matter get away from you. Be sure to contact the best law firms Perth to get expert legal advice today.