Dealing with the Police

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If you find yourself - for whatever reason - interacting with the police, it's important to know your rights and responsibilities.

You can be charged by the police if you are found breaking any laws. Police can also take alcohol away from you if they believe that you're under 18.

You have to give your correct name and address when the police ask you for it. The police will ask for this information when they believe:

  • You have broken the law
  • You are about to break the law
  • You can help them with information about a possible offence

Generally the police don't have the right to demand your name and address without a reason. They have to tell you why they want your name and address. You can ask for their reasons, but be polite and don't be smart about it.

However, the police do have the right to demand your name and address without a reason when you are:

  • Driving a car, motor bike, boat or bicycle
  • On the tram, train, bus or on public transport property
  • In a hotel or licensed premises (a place where you can buy alcohol). Staff in a hotel or licensed premises can also ask for your proof of age

It's a criminal offence to refuse to give your name and address, or to give a false name and address to the police or public transport officers. You can be fined for these offences by a court.

The police must also tell you their name, identification number, the name of the police station where they work and their rank. The police must give you this information in writing, when you ask.

For more information about your rights, check out Victoria Legal Aid's Police Powers and Your Rights page (new window).

Drug Use

If you are involved with drug use (new window), you may have to deal with the police. Types of offences you could face include use, possession and trafficking. How much drugs is a "trafficable quantity" of drugs is stated in the law. The amount is different for different kinds of drug.

Even selling drugs to a friend is trafficking. Trafficking is a serious offence. The penalties can be very harsh.

If police have reasonable suspicion that you are either, using, possessing or trafficking drugs, they have the right to question you or search you, your house or your property without a warrant. You have the right to know why they want to question or search you.

If you're arrested and held in custody, it's your right to seek bail and to be brought before a magistrate (or bail justice) to have your application heard.

If you believe that you have been mistreated you can make a complaint against the police officer you dealt with. Check out our Making a Complaint page to find out how.

Getting Legal Advice

If you find yourself in trouble with the police there are places you can go for legal advice. Check out our Legal Advice page to find out more.

Links

Victoria Legal Aid - Police Powers and Your Rights page
A general guide to help you when you deal with the police. It includes specific information for people under the age of 17. This booklet is also published in Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Macedonian, Serbian, Turkish and Vietnamese.

Victoria Police - Young People: Alcohol, Drugs and the Law
Download this PDF brochure with information about alcohol and drug laws and how these relate to young people.