Being part of the CPF and community awareness in our community I have had first hand experience and heard of many problems arising when the community have met police officers. Some good, but some very bad and scary (this was my experience). Below are some simple but good things to know when you do get stopped, but the best advice I can offer is to become humble immediately.
If you feel that your constitutional rights have been violated, you can pursue legal action against the person/entity you believe has infringed your rights.
If you’re stopped and pulled over as part of a roadblock:
1. You have the right to request the identity and authority of the official – ask for official identification.
2. You have the right to be treated with dignity; the official cannot swear at you or threaten you unduly.
3. Random searches of your body or your property are not allowed. An official should have a search warrant or valid belief that you have been involved in a crime.
4. You are allowed to make a phone call for legal assistance to friends/family to arrange for help on your behalf.
5. If you have been arrested, you have to appear before a court within 48 hours, or if the 48 hours expire on a weekend or public holiday, on the first court day thereafter.
a. You have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
b. You do not have to make a statement to the police – the state needs to prove your guilt. If you make a statement, it can be used against you and you can easily incriminate yourself.
c. You have the right to apply for police bail for certain offenses.
6. If you are granted bail, you will be informed of the date you must appear in court.
a. If you pay the bail money, and are released, but fail to appear in court on the specified day, you will lose the bail money, will be arrested again, and will be detained until the matter is finalised.
b. Remember: there is a difference between bail money and an admission of guilt fine. An admission of guilt fine is the same as pleading guilty and will finalise the matter.
7. You have the right to nominate a legal representative of your choice.
a. You should not take legal advice from the police.
“Knowing your rights and enforcing them are two different things…”