«May 2012 Am I old enough? Common legal issues for young people This booklet covers what you can and can’t do because of your age Am I old enough? ...»
When the police are questioning you, you have the right to remain silent, and to answer ‘no comment’ or stay silent to all the questions except those about your name and address. You can’t get in trouble for saying ‘no comment’ or staying silent and it shouldn’t affect whether you get bail or work against you in court. If the police record the interview, they should give you or your lawyer a copy of the interview within seven days.
The police don’t have to wait for a parent, guardian or an independent person to arrive before questioning you when someone else involved in the crime might get away or if waiting may cause danger to other people.
Am I old enough? Common legal issues for young people
Am I old enough for the police to fingerprint me?
There are different rules depending on your age:
• under 10 – the police aren’t allowed to fingerprint you • 10 to 14 – you and your parents or guardian must agree before the police can take your fingerprints. You don’t have to agree to this. If you or your parents or guardian refuse fingerprinting, the police have to get permission from the Children’s Court • 15 to 17 – your parents, guardian or an independent person must be with you when the police ask to take your fingerprints. They must also be there if the police take your fingerprints • 17 years and older – in most situations you have to let the police take your fingerprints if they believe you’ve committed an offence. This isn’t the case in some minor offences like jaywalking and littering.
What happens if I refuse to give my fingerprints?
The police can use ‘reasonable force’ to get them. Reasonable force means the police may physically restrain you. If you’re 16 or younger, the police must audiotape or videotape this.
The police must destroy your fingerprints within six months if the police don’t charge you or the court finds you ‘not guilty’. The police must also destroy your fingerprints if you don’t re-offend before turning 26 (unless the police charged you with a serious offence like murder, assault or rape). Check with the police to make sure that this has been done.
What is a ‘forensic procedure’?
A forensic procedure is a physical examination. Some forensic procedures involve taking ‘intimate’ body samples, like blood, pubic hair, anal, genital or breast swabs, saliva, and mouth or dental impressions.
A qualified doctor or dentist must carry out these procedures. The police must tell you beforehand that you don’t have to answer any questions the doctor or dentist ask you.
The police can take ‘non-intimate’ body samples from you, like hair, fingernail or toenail scrapings and some external body swabs.
Depending on your age, different rules apply if the police want to
get body samples:
• under 10 – police can’t take a body sample from you • 10 to 17 – police can only take a body sample if they get a court order. A parent, guardian or independent person must be with you if the police take a body sample • 18 years or older – you don’t have to agree to give body samples.
If you refuse, the police can apply to a court for permission to take a sample or a senior police officer can give the go ahead for non-intimate body samples.
You should always get legal advice before agreeing to give any blood or a body sample.
Why do the police want to take my photo?
The police may want to take your photo so they can identify you when
• kept in a police cell Police, bouncers and transport inspectors • released from custody on bail with conditions that you report to a local police station.
The police may try to photograph you without your permission when you’re sitting in the waiting room or in a cell. You have the right to say no to having your photograph taken. You don’t have to show a tattoo or part of your body. You have the right to say no. If police take your photo after you’ve said no, you can complain to a senior officer at the station.
What if the police want me to be in an identification parade?
You have the right to refuse to be in an identification (ID) parade and the police can’t force you to do it. An ID parade is where the police put you in a line of people to see if a witness can identify you as the person who committed the offence. A witness is a person who saw or heard something about your case, like someone who was injured by the offence.
Am I old enough?
Common legal issues for young people Always talk to a lawyer before agreeing to be in an identification parade.
If you take part in an ID parade, you may be mistakenly identified by the witness as the person who committed the offence.
Can I complain about the police?
Yes, if the police have done something you think is wrong, you can make a complaint to the senior sergeant of the station or the Ethical Standards Department of Victoria Police. If you want to complain, do it quickly. First, write down what you remember happening and get legal advice, especially if the police have charged you with an offence.
See ‘Where to get help’ on page 83.
If you’re hurt, go to a doctor immediately. Tell the doctor that the police hurt you and show them where you were hurt. Ask the doctor to keep a record of any injuries. Take photos of any visible injuries.
The Office of Police Integrity handles complaints about police corruption and serious misconduct. This includes where police officers acted dishonestly, abused their power or broke the law.
Call 8635 6188 or 1800 818 387 (toll free) or visit www.opi.vic.gov.au Can I complain about my lawyer?
Yes, you can complain to the Legal Services Commissioner on 1300 796 344 (local call within Victoria) or 9679 8001.
Bouncers and security guards There are many different kinds of security staff with different roles and powers.
Shopping centres and managers of other public places employ security guards to make sure all people can use the space safely. In public places, like parks, security guards have the same powers as any other person. In privately owned places, like nightclubs, security guards can have wider powers depending on what the owners ask them to do.
Some places are both private and public, like shopping centres.
You can question the powers of security guards if you believe the guard is being over the top.
Security staff must wear identification badges and tell you their name and identification number if you ask them for it.
What security staff can and can’t do If a security guard sees you doing something that isn’t allowed in that area, like smoking or riding a bike in a shopping centre, they can ask you to leave. If you refuse, they can remove you from the premises using ‘reasonable force‘.
A security guard can arrest you if they see you committing an offence.
This is the same as a ‘citizen’s arrest’. A security guard can also hold you until the police arrive. You don’t have to answer any questions a security guard asks you.
A security guard can ask to search your bag. You can refuse. You can also withdraw your permission at any time during the search. However, searching your bag may be a condition of entry to some places, like shops or sports stadiums.
Police, bouncers and transport inspectors
A security guard can’t:
• use too much force • arrest, hold or question you if they only suspect you have committed an offence • ask you to leave an area because of your age (unless it’s a legal requirement, for example, you’re under age), race, mental illness, disability or because you may be gay or lesbian.
How to complain about security staff The Licensing and Regulation Division, which is part of Victoria Police, issues licences for security staff. The division can investigate complaints about security guards, crowd controllers and security companies, and can suspend or cancel a security licence or registration.
Am I old enough? Common legal issues for young people
Call them on 1300 651 645 if you’re thinking about making a complaint.
Then make the complaint in writing to: Regulation Support Unit, Licensing and Regulation Division GPO Box 2807 Melbourne 3001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Security companies have a code of practice they must follow. Find out which association the company belongs to and make a complaint.
The Australian Security Industry Association Limited covers most companies, call 02 8425 4300 to check if the company is a member.
Tickets and ticket inspectors on public transport The law says you have to travel on public transport with a valid ticket or myki card.
You can travel without a valid ticket or myki card if:
• before and after your journey, you took all ‘reasonable steps’ to buy a ticket or myki card • you had ‘no reasonable opportunity’ to buy a ticket or myki card while making your journey, such as when the ticket machine wasn’t working.
There’s no definition of ‘reasonable steps’ or ‘reasonable opportunity’.
It depends on your circumstances.
It may be reasonable to travel without a valid ticket or myki card if:
• ticket machines weren’t working at the start of your journey and you couldn’t purchase a ticket or myki card during or after your journey • you had a pre-purchased ticket or myki card but the ‘validators’ weren’t working or your ticket was faulty and wouldn’t validate • an inspector approached you while you were queuing to use the ticket machine having just gotten on a tram • a tram was so crowded that you couldn’t get to the ticket machine or validator.
An inspector may take your ticket or myki card if you don’t validate the ticket for your trip. The inspector should offer you a ‘travel permit’ so you can finish your trip. You can apply to have your ticket or myki card returned if, for example, it’s a weekly ticket that you can use later or a card that still has value on it.
Can ticket inspectors ask for my name and address?
Inspectors can only ask for your name and address if they believe on ‘reasonable grounds’ that you have committed or are about to commit a public transport offence. This may include travelling without a valid ticket. The inspector must tell you why they believe this, so that you understand what the offence is. If you refuse to give your name and address, or give false information, you may be charged with an offence and can be arrested.
You can ask the inspector for their name and where they work. You can ask for this in writing. An inspector can be fined for not giving you this information.
The inspector must show you their identity card if you ask to see it.
Police, bouncers and transport inspectors Inspectors can ask you to prove that your name and address is correct if they believe on ‘reasonable grounds‘ that the details are false.
Protective services officers can also ask for your name and address at train stations and in some designated areas around train stations.
See ‘Protective services officers’ on page 78.
Do transport inspectors have the power to detain and arrest me?
Inspectors can only detain or arrest you without warrant if they believe on ‘reasonable grounds’ that it is necessary, such as to make sure you go to court. Inspectors must use no more force than is reasonable to detain you. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances.
Inspectors must hand you over to the police as soon as possible.
Protective services officers can also detain and arrest people at train stations and in some designated areas around train stations.
See ‘Protective services officers’ on page 78.
Am I old enough?
Common legal issues for young people What happens if I get a fine?
If the Department of Transport gives you a fine for a public transport offence, and you disagree that you committed the offence, get legal advice before paying the fine. See ‘Where to get more help and information’ on page 80. You can also have the Children’s Court hear your case. The court can reduce the amount of the fine. It can also set up an instalment plan where you can pay the fine off bit by bit. If you can’t pay the fine you can ask to go before a magistrate who may give you a different penalty, like a good behaviour bond.
Protective services officers (PSOs) In Victoria protective services officers work in train stations and designated places around some train stations. Designated places are train stations and surrounding areas, like car parks, tunnels, footpaths and bike paths leading to train stations. Protective services officers have similar arrest powers and the same weapons as police officers.
The protective services officers have many powers. For instance, they can:
• arrest a person if they suspect that person has broken the law • ask for a person’s name, age, name and address when a protective services officer reasonably believes that the person is under 18 and has drank, is drinking or is about to drink alcohol. Protective services officers can caution (officially warn) this person if they refuse to give this information. They can also take the alcohol from the person.
• search a person and the person’s car for graffiti implements if they believe that person is 14 or over and carrying these implements • stop a person from going anywhere else if they believe that person has been chroming (inhaling a ‘volatile substance’ like a spray can) and might harm themselves • apprehend (hold) a person who appears to be mentally ill and is believed to have recently tried to seriously hurt themselves or someone else (or is likely to do so) • direct a person to move on if the person is breaching the peace (causing a disturbance) or endangering the safety of others • search a person for weapons if they reasonably suspects the person is carrying or possessing a weapon. The search can last as long as the protective services officer thinks is a reasonable length of time to do the search.