Know Your Rights!

Print this page and carry it with you!

Police Questioning:

- You have the right to remain silent -- including not making a statement or answering questions -- but you must give your correct name and address.

- If the police want you to go with them, ask if you've been arrested. If you haven't, then you are under no obligation to go with them.

- You have the right to talk to your own lawyer, or a free lawyer on the Bill of Rights list if you're being questioned about an offence.

- If you're under 17, then you have the right to have a supportive adult of your choice with you at the police station.


- Always ask why you are being searched. If you don't wish to be searched then you must say so. Silence is effectively consent!

- The police can only search you, your bag, or your car if you agree; or if they have a search warrant, or if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have drugs or an offensive weapon (or weapons). *[1]

- The police can only search your home if you agree, or if they have a search warrant, or if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that it contains drugs. *[1]

Arrests, Detainment, and Charges:

- Always ask if you're being arrested, detained, or charged, and why.

- Do not run away, and do not resist arrest.

- You have the right to refrain from making a statement or answering any questions.

- You have the right to consult a lawyer, if you do not have a lawyer of your own then you have the right to a free lawyer from the Bill of Rights list.

- The onus is on the police to prove that you are a danger to the public, if they cannot prove this, then you have the right to bail.

Police Complaints:

Freephone the Police Complaints Authority on 0800-503-728.

*[1] Simply smelling like or smelling of cannabis is not sufficient grounds for a search to take place.

This comes from the back of a prominent Wellington lawyer's business card


Rights of persons arrested or detained include:
(1) Those arrested... (a) Shall be told...of the reason for it; and (b) Shall have the right to consult..a lawyer without delay...
(2) Everyone...arrested for an offence has the right to be charged promptly or to be released...
(3) Everyone who is Arrested: or Detained...for any offence or suspected offence...shall have the right to refrain from making any staatement and to be informed of that right.

This comes off the NORML NZ website

Civil Rights Guide - You and the Law

Demand to be treated with respect, but show some respect in return. Be clever, not smart.

Suspected ?
If you are suspected of committing a crime, you must tell the police your name, address, date of birth and occupation. If you are not under arrest you are then free to leave. You have the right to be free of arbitrary arrest or detainment, and to be secure against any unreasonable search or seizure of yourself, your property, or your correspondence. You have the right to remain silent, and this includes written statements. Write down everything that happens. Record anything to help you identify them later if needed; badge number, name, car rego, rank, police station, etc. They must let you know their name & number if they arrest you. Ask to see their ID badge.It's a good idea to carry a pen around with you.

If the police want to search you, say 'NO, I DO NOT CONSENT TO A SEARCH. WHAT IS YOUR LAWFUL AUTHORITY?' They must have your consent or a valid search warrant, or invoke an emergency power to search such as that under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 (MDA), section 18, subsection ii (for a person) or iii (for property). Unless arrested, you do not have to go anywhere with the police, not even a 'just come over here so I can talk to you.' Stay with your friends and be each other's witnesses.

Driving In Your Car
If you're driving you must stop and give your name, address and the registered owner of the car. Get out of the car, and lock the doors behind you. They need proper authority to search the vehicle; don't let them do it unless they have a warrant or invoke the MDA section 18 subsection iii. The Transport Act only allows them to check safety features such as breaks and steering; they cannot use it to search for drugs, and if they find any you may get off.

Home Sweet Home
The police can search you or your property if you agree; they have no general right of search or entry on private property. They will usually arrive with a warrant. If it is unsigned or has a different address, it is not valid; you have the right to check the warrant before letting them in. You have the right to watch what they are doing as long as you don't interfere.

At The Station
If you are arrested, you must go with them. Ask for a lawyer, don't agree to be videoed, don't make deals, don't nark; they may be lying and still do you too. You may be searched, fingerprinted, and photographed. You must give your name, address, date and place of birth, and occupation - nothing else. You have the right to not make a statement, and the police must inform you of this. You have the right to know the nature and cause of the charge, at the time of arrest. You have the right to consult a lawyer. They have the right to search you and any bag you may have been carrying. If you are in any form of custody, you have the right to be treated with humanity and with respect for your inherent dignity.

Discuss your complaint with the senior officer at the station, make a formal complaint to the police, make a formal complaint to the Police Complaints Authority, PO Box 5025 Wellington, Freephone 0800 503 728.