Drug searches and police powers during events and festivals

Drag Queen - Image 1 | Dowson Turco Lawyers

There is an important message we want to get out to our clients, family and friends. That message is that you have legal rights when you deal with police officers and we are the lawyers who a large portion of the community comes to for legal representation in police matters.

Here is practical advice you can follow:

Your general rights when you interact with police

Police can search you if they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime. That might be because you are behaving suspiciously or it might be because a drug dog has sat down next to you. Sometimes suspicion arises because of a person’s particular location or police intelligence.

During a search, police must:

  • Offer you the right to be silent [you should generally accept the offer and not say anything to police]
  • Give you sufficient privacy [especially if they strip-search you]
  • Offer you a same-sex gendered officer [if practicable]
  • Not insert their fingers in your mouth or any cavity without a warrant signed by a magistrate or judge

Reasonable suspicion is required for a search

Reasonable suspicion is sometimes a basis for an accused person challenging an illegal search and the charge . You should speak to DTL’s criminal lawyers about challenging a charge based on the illegality of the search. Illegal searches may, in some circumstances, render a resulting charge void. Sometimes, a defendant also has the right to seek costs for wrongful prosecution and we will vigorously pursue the prosecution if we are successful in challenging a prosecution.

Be respectful of police to avoid complicating your matter

If you are spoken to by police, be respectful, and ask your friends not to interfere, but also know that your friends are permitted to film police actions, provided they are not getting in the way. If police want to see your identification, you should provide it, but politely also ask the police officer for theirs.

Silverton by Robyn Jay CC2.0CC. Broken Hill is the setting for the annual Broken Heel Festival which sometime attracts police searches of festival goers

Move-on directions are subject to laws regulating when they can be given

If you are in a public place, such as attending a festival, concert or Mardi Gras event, police can give you a direction to move on. Police must warn you before giving you such a direction and they cannot give you a direction unless they have reasonable grounds to believe that your presence or conduct is:

  • obstructing another person or persons or traffic;
  • harassing or intimidating another person or persons;
  • causing or likely to cause fear to another person or persons, so long as the relevant conduct would be such as to cause fear to a person of reasonable firmness;
  • for the purpose of unlawfully supplying, or intending to unlawfully supply, or soliciting another person or persons to unlawfully supply, any illicit drug; for the purpose of obtaining, procuring or purchasing any illicit drug that it would be unlawful for the person to possess; and
  • if they suspect you may be engaging in public disorder.

If you are directed to move on, and police have warned you that they may direct you to move on, then you should follow the direction.

Call our crime team on 0295193088 or email us at enquiries@dowsonturco.com.au

Dowson Turco's logo