Information - Police and Charges
ARE YOU BEING
The police probably
have the right to physically move you out of the way of vehicles etc
without arresting or charging you. They can arrest you if they think
you have committed an offence but also if they ("reasonably")
think you may be about to commit an offence.
If the police arrest
you, they must TELL you you are being arrested and they must take hold
of you- you must physically submit for an arrest to occur. It is an
offence to 'resist arrest' but it is NOT an offence to passively resist,
ie. by going limp, or to run away before the arrest takes place (however
running makes you vulnerable to being shot in the back or something
so its probably wiser to walk quickly instead).
If you're not sure
what's going on, ask if you are being arrested. Ask what you are being
charged with and remember what they say.
It is a defence
to the charge of resisting arrest if you did not know the person arresting
you was a police officer (ie they were a plainclothes cop). If you swear
at the police or do anything that could count as 'assaulting' them,
you could leave yourself open to more charges.
THE GOLDEN RULE:
just because you have been arrested it does not mean you will necessarily
be convicted of an offence (the police still have to PROVE in court
that you did it) and it does not even mean that you will be charged
with an offence. Police CAN arrest people just to get them out of the
way and then release them without charge- they are allowed to detain
you for a 'reasonable' amount of time.
Police are allowed
to use 'reasonable' force to arrest you but you can make a complaint
if you think they were violent. If you have any injuries, get them photographed
and seen to by a doctor as soon as possible. In fact it is a good idea
to pay as close attention to the circumstances of your arrest as if
you were going to make a complaint. The details could help you later
if you are charged and go to court. Remember the exact words and actions
of the arresting officer/s, get the names and contacts of any witnesses,
and write down exactly what happened as soon as possible afterwards.
If the arrest wasn't done properly (ie the wording of the charge says
you should have been given a direction to leave, and you weren't), you
could have your charge dropped or get off in court.
NAME AND ADDRESS
The police have
the right to ask you for your name and address, whether you are under
arrest or not. It is an offence to refuse to give your name and address
and if you are arrested, the police may refuse to release you on bail
if you don't. It is also an offence to give a false name and address,
but if you plan to do this obviously don't carry any ID or hang around
people who may use your real name and incriminate you. You only have
to show proof of ID if you are actually arrested.
You DO NOT have
to, and you should not, give the police any extra information even if
you have been arrested. You have the right to silence, and remember
there is no such thing as an 'off the record' conversation with police.
And- the golden rule #2: NEVER sign anything unless you know exactly
what it means.
The police officer
must tell you their name, rank and where they're stationed if you ask
them. They are supposed to have their ID badges on display at all times
while they're on duty.
You have the right
to talk to a lawyer before the police question you.
Get hold of the
names and phone numbers of any lawyers who have offered their services
during your action. Get the police to call one for you if you are arrested.
Before the police
question you, you have the right to contact a relative or friend to
let them know where you are. Get the police to phone them and put you
on the phone.
The police have
no right to demand that you submit to being photographed, but they are
allowed to try. If you don't want to be photographed, cover your face
or move away.
The police have
the right to demand that you let them take your fingerprints. They have
the right to use force if you refuse. (I think if you are arrested and
let off, or found not guilty, you can ask to have them destroyed- the
same goes for photographs).
The police do not
have an automatic right to search you. However, they will usually do
a 'pat-down' search if they arrest you. For this reason NEVER carry
any more with you on an action than is absolutely necessary. They will
take anything you've got off you and give it back after you've been
'processed'. If you've got incriminating stuff on you, ie. lock-on equipment
even if you haven't used it, it could be used as evidence of conspiracy
(maybe its being excessively paranoid but get rid of any of this stuff
if you're busted).
Police can do a
strip search if they have 'reasonable grounds' but it should not be
done in a public place and should be done by an officer of the same
gender as you. They can not touch you improperly or conduct an internal
or external examination without a court order or your consent. You shouldn't
consent. If they try to take a forensic sample (blood, hair, genital
or mouth swabs), you should refuse and get hold of a lawyer.
GETTING OUT OF
The police can either
release you without charging you (but you may get a summons sent to
you in the mail), or they can charge you and release you on bail. Ask
to leave as soon as you've been processed at the police station.
Bail is an undertaking
(a promise) that you will turn up to court on the day your charge is
listed. The undertaking is a form that you have to sign before they'll
let you go. It has standard conditions printed on it, ie. that you will
turn up to court.
The police can add
special conditions to your undertaking, like a promise that you will
not return to the protest in which you were involved or even to the
general area. You don't have to agree to these.
If the undertaking
doesn't include special conditions, sign it and get out of there. If
you want to make a political statement and refuse bail, go ahead- you
can accept bail at any time or stay in jail until your court case if
you want to.
If the undertaking
includes extra conditions, - tell the police you want them to call a
lawyer, and discuss it with them - if you don't want to agree to the
conditions, don't sign the bail form. You may be kept in the police
cells for some time, but the police have to take you before the Magistrates
Court as soon as possible to ask for bail from the magistrate (this
is also the case if you are refused bail). A lawyer (or you) can ask
the magistrate to drop the extra bail conditions and there is a good
chance that they'll agree. - or you can sign the form with the conditions
and the police will let you go. If you breach the conditions, it may
be grounds for the police to re-arrest you and you could then also be
charged with breaching bail.
IF YOU ARE INVOLVED
WITH AN AFFINITY GROUP, IT WOULD BE GOOD TO HAVE SOMEONE DELEGATED AN
'ARREST WATCHER' TO KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR PEOPLE BEING ARRESTED,
FOLLOW THEM TO THE POLICE STATION, MAKE SURE THEY'RE OK AND WAIT FOR
THEM TO GET OUT.
HAVE A CONTINGENCY
PLAN IN CASE OF ARRESTS, LIKE A PLACE TO MEET BACK AFTER YOUR ACTION.
AND ITS ALSO GOOD TO DEBRIEF AFTERWARDS IF THE ACTION'S BEEN FULL-ON
OR IF PEOPLE FEEL LIKE THEY NEED IT.