Know Your Rights When the Police Stop You in Australia


Having an encounter with the police can be quite intimidating, especially if you have not done anything wrong. Of course, there are times when the police can legitimately stop and question you, but it’s important to know your rights and what they can legally do in Australia before you get pulled over in your car or approached on the street by an officer of the law. Expert criminal defence lawyers Sydney answers some common questions answered below:

Is it Okay to Refuse to Show Your ID to the Police?

In Sydney, as a general rule, if a police officer or security guard approaches you and requests to see identification, it is ideal to show them. In order to avoid being issued with an on-the-spot fine, citizens are obliged to produce valid photo ID. This can include a passport, driving licence or any other form of photo ID issued by NSW Police that includes address details. Don’t fib about where you live, as they might run a check and find out that wasn’t true.

Is it Possible for the Police to Search the Car Without Your Permission?

Yes, under Australian law, a search warrant is required before searching a car. According to criminal defence lawyers Sydney, police may detain a vehicle and its occupants if they suspect on reasonable grounds that there is evidence of an offence on board. That evidence might be drugs, weapons or stolen property, or simply because they believe it could help them solve a crime. If detained, you have to follow any lawful direction given by an officer. So, if they ask for your identification and licence, do as they say.

What Do You Say When Questioned by the Police?

When stopped by police, it’s important to be polite. You have no legal obligation to answer questions or cooperate with law enforcement. Police are allowed to detain a person if they believe on reasonable grounds that a person has committed, is committing or is about to commit an offence. If detained, politely ask am I being detained? If so, state that you wish to remain silent until you have spoken with Sydney defence lawyers. Do not resist arrest as it may lead to criminal charges against you.

Are Evidences Obtained in Illegal Search Permitted in Court?

If a search is carried out by an officer without a warrant, and if there is no other reason to believe that what is being searched for will be found there, then any evidence that has been found will be inadmissible as evidence in court. Police may still choose to proceed with charges based on non-searched items (for example, if they witness something illegal and arrest on suspicion of that), however any evidence obtained through illegal search means cannot be used.

Not many Australians know their rights when they are approached by the police. Even though the police have the right to detain and question you, they also have to adhere to certain rules and regulations that protect your rights as an individual in this country. Talk to the best criminal lawyers Sydney if you’d like to know more.

The author is one of the recognised criminal defence lawyers Sydney with years of experience in this field. He often writes about criminal law for his readers online. Visit

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