Your Legal Rights

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In the event that you are stopped by a Police Officer it is important to know your rights and be informed about the situation you are in. Often, a Police Officer will not stop or question someone else they are suspicious of what that person has or will do.

Stop and Search

The police have the general power to stop you in the street, ask you your name, address, where you have been and where you are going. This can often happen late at night. You do not have to answer the police officer but it is in your interest to answer. If you are rude or run away the police officer may get suspicious.

If you are stopped you are entitled to know the police officer’s name, which station they come from and why they have stopped you. The officer must have reasonable grounds for stopping and/or searching you. This means the police must have seen you doing something suspicious or there must have been something about your behaviour which is suspicious, or they must have received a “tip-off” (someone has given them some information about you or raised a concern).

In order to search you the police must have reasonable grounds to suspect they will find something which has been stolen or which is illegal. This could be drugs or an offensive weapon or something which you might use to commit an offence.

If you are aged 17 or over you can volunteer to let the police search you.

If you are aged 16 or under an ‘appropriate’ adult e.g. your parent or carer, can volunteer to let you be searched. In some special situations, like events, e.g. a football match, a gig, etc, you can be searched without a reason.

You can be searched while you are in a public place, including shopping centers and cinemas. Police can search anything you are carrying or a vehicle that you are in or which is yours. The police can search your house if they have reason to believe that they might find someone who has committed an arrestable offence or to look for evidence in connection with this; or they have a warrant or permission from a court; or to catch an escaped prisoner or save life or prevent serious property damage or to prevent some kind of disturbance.

If the police want you to remove more than your outer clothing, e.g. a coat or jacket, then this must be done out of the public view. You also have the right to request that this is done by an officer of the same sex as you.

A written record must be kept if you are searched and it should include details such as, the reason for the search, what was being looked for, time, date and location of the search as well as the name of the officer that conducted the search, the results of the search and any damage to your property. You have the right to ask for a copy of the report up to one year after it has been written.

Arrest

If the police suspect that you have committed a crime they will arrest you. Once you have been arrested you will lose certain freedoms but you will still have certain rights these include;

  • The right to be told by the police what you’ve been arrested for
  • You have the right for someone to be notified that you have been arrested.
  • If you are under 17 and are detained by the police, an appropriate adult, usually your parent or guardian should be informed as soon as possible. The police should not arrest you until your parent is present, unless a delay would mean immediate risk or harm to someone, or serious loss or damage to property.
  • You have the right to see a solicitor in private. If you cannot afford a solicitor or have no idea how to contact one then one will be provided for you
  • You have the right to be treated humanely and with respect
  • You have the right to choose not to say anything once you have been arrested i.e. you have the right to silence

Once you have been arrested the police can only detain you for a certain amount of time, usually 24 hours, but if the offence is serious this can be extended to 36 hours. The police can apply to a magistrate’s court and have the time extended to 96 hours. At the end of this time you would normally be charged or released.

Bail

When you have been arrested and charged with an offence there will usually be a time delay before your case is heard in court or you get a reprimand or a final warning. During this time you can be kept on remand in a secure institution or you may be given bail.

There are two types of bail:

Unconditional Bail this means you can go home and continue with your normal life until your case is heard in court or you get a reprimand or final warning.

Conditional Bail has specified conditions, these can include:

  • Having to stay indoors at certain times of the day or night (a curfew)
  • Reporting to the police station or court at specified times each week
  • You could be ‘tagged’ while you are on bail so you can be tracked and you have to be indoors at a certain time.
  • You may have to stay away from the victim and the witnesses
  • You can be told to live at home or with someone else during this time
  • There are also bail hostels that you may be sent to see below

Your solicitor will negotiate your bail; this will also include the Youth Offending Team if you aged between 11 and 18.

If you do not keep the bail conditions, you can be arrested and not allowed to go home until your case has concluded.

Bail can be refused for the following reasons:

  • You have committed a crime whilst on bail before
  • It is thought that there is a need to protect property or persons from damage and injury
  • Your name and address are in doubt
  • It is thought that you will not turn up in court.

If you do not get bail you are held on remand

If you are 17 or under on remand, you will usually be held in a children’s home or with foster parents. In rare cases, you might be held in a secure unit.

Remand can also be prison if you are 15 or over (if you are 15 or 16 this is usually in a special remand centre in a young offender’s institution).

Remand can go until your case is finished; this might be a few days or at the other extreme about 9 months. This may seem unfair because at this stage you have not been found guilty of anything. It is important that while you are waiting for your case that you try to remain positive, especially if you are innocent. Being held somewhere can be difficult if you are young and not used to the restrictions on your freedom.

Bail hostels provide an ‘enhanced’ level of supervision for offenders and people on bail. They provide places for individuals at the various different stages of the criminal justice process including:

  • Person on bail awaiting a court case
  • Convicted person undergoing assessment
  • Offenders on probation
  • Released prisoners on license

Hostels operate strict rules governing behaviour, curfews are enforced and work programmes are agreed in order to reduce offending. Residents can also receive advice on personal issues, as well as employment training and help moving on into permanent accommodation.

  • There will be a wide variety of reasons why at certain points in your life you will need legal advice.
  • It could be for buying a house or may be something has gone wrong, with an item you bought and you are in dispute with the company that made it or the company you bought it from.
  • There is the possibility that you will need legal support because you have been arrested and charged with a crime by the police.
  • It is not always necessary to consult a solicitor in order to get legal advice and there are a number of different places and people who can help with legal matters. The following are suggestions of places that you may wish to consult if you need legal advice before you decide if you need a solicitor:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/legal-system/taking-legal-action/do-you-need-legal-advice/

Legal Advice and Support

There will be a wide variety of reasons why at certain points in your life you will need legal advice. It could be for buying a house or may be something has gone wrong, with an item you bought and you are in dispute with the company that made it or the company you bought it from.

There is the possibility that you will need legal support because you have been arrested and charged with a crime by the police.

It is not always necessary to consult a solicitor in order to get legal advice – here are some organisations that can provide further information and support.

  • The Mix

The Mix is a website full of ‘essential’ information for young people under 25 years old. They also have a Crime and Safety section.

  • Citizen’s Advice – 03444 77 20 20 (if you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired you can text: 03444 111 445)

Citizen’s Advice aims to provide the advice people need for the problems they face and improve the policies and practices that affect people’s lives. They provide free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. They value diversity, promote equality and challenge discrimination.

They give free advice on Debt, Employment, Benefits, Housing and much more. For more information you visit their website.

  • Advice UK

Advice UK is a directory of services that can signpost you to information you might need. You can find more information here.

  • UK Government

You can find out more about Legal Aid and the Civil Legal Advice Service on the Government website.

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