HomeOur PeopleClient CareStaff NoticesRecent NewsFinancingPublicationsLINKSCareers with Corban Revell

Contact Us

133A Central Park Drive
Waitakere City
Auckland 0610
New Zealand
Phone: +64 9 837 0550
Fax: +64 9 838 7187
Email: info@corbanrevell.co.nz

What are your rights when you are arrested/detained by the police?

ARTICLE by Francis Peters

August 2012

On an introductory note, the Police’s power of questioning must be set out. The police may ask your name, address, date of birth, occupation and other routine processing questions. You must provide an answer to these, or else the Police may arrest you.

Before questioning you about anything else, the police must give your rights pursuant to section 23 of the Bill of Rights Act, namely that;

  • you have the right to remain silent
  • any statement you make may be used as evidence against you,
  • you have a right to speak with a lawyer and if you wish, and have a lawyer present when you are being questioned.
  • a lawyer will be assigned to your case without cost if you cannot afford a lawyer but want to speak to one.

The Police questioning must cease should you state that you wish to remain silent or request a lawyer. You do not have to make a statement about what happened, what led to your arrest, until after you have spoken with your lawyer. The Police must inform you of this right when they arrest you.

If you are taken into police custody, the provisions of the Bill of Rights Act are automatically triggered.

You have the right to be informed of the charges against you and the allowable penalties, the right to obtain a lawyer, including the right to have one appointed if you cannot afford one, the right to have a judge decide whether you should be released from custody on bail until your substantive court hearing, and the right to remain silent.

If you are arrested, you must provide your correct full name, address and date and place of birth. You must also allow your fingerprints and photo to be taken. This is usually done at a Police Station.

The Police may take blood samples or cheek tissue samples ( a buccal sample) for DNA analysis if:

  • you are a suspect, and
  • the offence is serious enough to be tried by a jury (charges laid indictably) , or
  • they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the DNA will prove your involvement in the crime.

Police rules are such that it is normal practice that a friend or relative named by you would be informed of your arrest.. The Police must in any case tell your parents that you’ve been arrested if you are under 17.

Everyone in this situation has the right to talk to and instruct a lawyer without delay, in private and for free. There is a duty roster of Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA) lawyers so that help is available 24 hours a day and at no cost to you. There will be a list of lawyers available at the every Police Station. If you do not have a regular a Solicitor , you may ask for the duty roster list and pick one.  

What are the special rules for questioning suspects who are under-17?

If you’re under 17, the Police have fewer powers to arrest and question you, and you are dealt with by different rules and different courts;

At ages 14  to 16 you are considered a “young person”, and if you break the law you are generally dealt with by the Police Youth Aid diversion, a family group conference or the Youth Court.

 At age 17 you are, for legal purposes, an “adult” and will therefore be required to appear in adult Courts.

The Police must contact your parents or guardians to tell them that you have been arrested or are at the police station. They also have to explain your rights to you in a way that you can understand. 

What can we do for you?

Corban Revell Lawyers have a number of skilled Barrister and Solicitors who regularly appear in the District Courts for Traffic and Criminal matters.

We will be able to further explain your rights to you, and also represent you in Court and guide you through the complex process of advancing a criminal / traffic matter through the Court system.

We can also enter into discussions with the Police on your behalf, with a view of resolving the matter before it ends up resulting in a substantive defended hearing.

Please contact the writer Francis Peters on 09 837 5743, or at fpeters@corbanrevell.co.nz to discuss your matter with him.

Francis is a Barrister and Solicitor in Corban Revell’s Litigation Team. He frequently appears in the Waitakere District Court and the North Shore District Court, and has also done appearances in the Auckland District Court and the High Court for Civil matters.