Rights – Criminal

Picture of barbed wire on a prison fence

If you are charged with a crime, there are minimum rights that you are guaranteed. These rights include the right to:

  • Be treated equal before the courts and tribunals.
  • Be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law
  • Be informed promptly and in detail, in a language you understand, of the cause and nature of the charge
  • Have adequate time to prepare a defence
  • Be tried without delay
  • Free assistance of an interpreter in court if you cannot understand or speak the language being used
  • Have your conviction and sentence reviewed by a higher court

You have rights when being interviewed by the police as set out by the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000. If you have a disability, you have the right to:

  • Have a support person present. They may be a friend or family member
  • Speak with your support person without being overheard prior to being interviewed.

If you are in being interviewed by the police, you also have the right to:

  • Remain silent, whether you have been stopped by police in the street, have agreed to go to the police station or are under arrest. Exceptions to this is being asked for information such as your name and address, if they suspect you’ve broken traffic laws or seen an accident or have the power to ask a specific question under special laws.
  • Only be detained for a maximum period of 8 hours unless a court order extends the period. During the 8 hour period, you may only be questioned for a maximum of 4 hours.
  • Not be questioned if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol

If it is considered you may have mental health problems, you may be referred for mental health assessments, and/or Mental Health Court.