Being charged with a crime is a stressful experience. You may be questioned by the police and arrested if the charge is serious. When this occurs, the officer must disclose why you are being arrested. However, you may be wondering what led to this charge. Can the police charge you without evidence? And how much evidence do they need? Our criminal lawyers have detailed the cold hard truth of the matter.
The Police Can Charge You Without Hard Evidence
The police can’t charge you without any evidence at all. However, they can charge you if they have any reason to believe you may be involved in an incident or had the intent to commit a crime. It is commonplace for arrests and charges to take place in the days after a crime has been committed, and police don’t have to catch you in the act to have a valid reason to arrest you. The police will prioritise primary evidence against you, such as victim or witness statements and timestamped CCTV footage. Arrests and charges can take place before or during an investigation.
The Types of Evidence That You Can Face Charges For
The types of evidence that can be submitted is regulated by the Evidence Act (1997) Queensland. As explained above, the police can charge you without having several pieces of hard or primary evidence. They only need a reason to believe that you could be connected or planning to commit an offence. Due process through the courts and a thorough collection of evidence will then determine whether charges remain or are dropped. The types of evidence that can tie you to a crime include:
- Testimonial evidence and victim statements;
- DNA at the scene of the crime;
- Photographs and video footage;
- Documentation and your digital footprint; and
- Messages published or sent online.
How To Know if You’ve Been Charged With An Offence
You will know when you’ve been charged with a crime because one of three things will take place:
#1 You Are Arrested
The police will arrest you and take you into custody until your court date or release on bail. The police don’t need a warrant to arrest adults or children if they have reason to believe you have committed or were committing an offence. They will usually state that you are under arrest and inform you of why, but they are not required to read your rights.
#2 You Receive a Complaint and Summons
A complaint and summons is a charge formally expressed in writing. A justice of the peace must witness the document being sworn on an oath before it is served on you. You will then need to appear in your local Magistrates Court on the set date and you do not need to interact with police or go into custody.
#3 You Receive a Notice to Appear in Court
A notice to appear is a less formal approach than the complaint and summons. It outlines a description of the charge. This notice to appear is often issued by police at short or immediate notice.
What Happens Immediately After You’ve Been Charged
After you’ve been formally charged with an offence, you will receive a charge sheet which is documented in the police station and used in court. You’ll also be able to view the police prosecution file in which the officer will make notations of communication methods, dates, times and particulars supplied to you. You will also have the opportunity to contact a lawyer and decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty.
Seeking Legal Advice from Brisbane Criminal Lawyers
As soon as you’ve been charged with an offence, talking to a criminal lawyer should be your first priority. We provide honest and straightforward legal advice for a wide range of offences and charges. To get qualified legal advice, have us represent you or answer any queries you might have, contact us at Guest Lawyers. Our team of established law professionals can guide you through the process at any point in time and protect you from facing the full brunt of the law.