What is Hindering Police

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One South Australian man, Trevor Johnson, fought unfair charges of hindering police in court and won.

He had been arrested and taken to the local police station after he tried to stop a police officer from inspecting his car for faults.

Mr Johnson argued with police, believing they had wrongfully targeted him. He then locked his car and walked away.

Police arrested him when he walked into the nearby shopping centre. They continued to search his vehicle after they locked him in a cell at the station.

The only thing that police could point to as raising their suspicion was that the vehicle appeared ‘dirty’ and therefore could have been used to drive through bushland.

The search found nothing untoward about the car except for an allegedly missing compliance plate on the gas tank. But this could not have come off due to driving through tough terrain, meaning that the police ‘suspicions’ were unfounded.

And Mr Johnson later found out that the compliance plate on the gas tank wasn’t missing at all, after speaking with his gas manufacturer.

Mr Johnson said that he hoped his experience would help other people who found themselves in similar situations, facing unfair charges that should never have ended up in court.

But the Local Area Operations Inspector was unapologetic, even after Mr Johnson was successful in court.

Resisting or hindering police is dealt with seriously by the law, but what exactly does the offence include?

It is a very broad category, and can include basically any kind of behaviour that disrupts a police officer from carrying out their duties.

The Crimes Act 1900 states that the offence takes place when anyone resists, hinders or incites another person to assault, resist or hinder police.

This includes resisting arrest.

Anyone found guilty of hindering police faces a maximum of 12 months in jail and/or a $1,100 fine.

Using a weapon to resist arrest is a more serious charge, with 12 years in jail attached. If it is in company, the maximum jail time jumps up to15 years.

Resisting or hindering police during an investigation is punishable with 7 years imprisonment.

Hindering police during an investigation means doing anything that is intended in any way to interfere with the investigation of a serious offence.

This includes preventing the discovery of evidence of a serious offence or the apprehension of another person who has committed a serious offence.

But this doesn’t affect your silence.

Choosing not to answer police questions does not count as hindering an investigation.

What happens if you don’t think the police have the right to arrest you in the first place?

You probably know that police can’t just arrest you for any reason, or even just for questioning.

They must have a reasonable suspicion that you committed an offence and that arrest is necessary in the circumstances.

But what if you think the police are going to arrest you even without a valid reason?

While there is a chance you were mistaken as to your rights in the situation, it is not uncommon for police to overstep their boundaries and you might find yourself in a situation where you have been arrested improperly.

Reciting your legal rights may not always help the situation, especially if you are outnumbered by police.

For decades, various community centres and the legal aid commission have been advising that in these situations, being polite and obedient may be best way to go, even if the police are in the wrong.

Unfortunately, this can help to instil a culture where police know that regulations can be safely ignored.

But if you feel that your rights have been infringed, you can always follow up with a complaint.

If you are facing charges of resisting arrest or hindering police, speak to an experienced criminal lawyer to see what your options are.

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About Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Specialist Criminal Lawyer and Principal at Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Sydney’s Leading Firm of Criminal & Traffic Defence Lawyers.

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