There are several things to consider when deciding when to lodge your complaint. Lodging a complaint as soon as possible after an incident improves the chances of your complaint being substantiated as Material presented to a court to prove or disprove a fact. It can include what witnesses say as well as documents and other objects. can be collected that may be lost if the complaint is lodged later.
However, if you have been charged, or may be charged, with an A criminal act prohibited by state or commonwealth criminal law. An offence is either a summary offence (minor) or an indictable offence (serious). relating to the incident(s) about which you are complaining, then lodging a complaint can have negative consequences (see ‘Lodging a complaint when charges are laid or anticipated’, below).
Before lodging a complaint, get the advice of a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with police misconduct complaints about the best time to lodge your complaint. A community legal centre can advise you or help you find an appropriate lawyer (see Chapter 2.4: Legal services that can help).
Lodging a complaint when charges are laid or anticipated
When a complaint is made, it is not unknown for the A person who begins a criminal prosecution against another in the Magistrates’ Court, or formally starts an action in a court or tribunal or makes a complaint to a complaint-handling body. In a civil action they could also be referred to as a plaintiff or an applicant. to be charged, or charged with additional offences, by the police officer(s) named in the complaint. Police officers are also more reluctant to withdraw charges or proceed with lesser charges when the Claimed but not proved. For example, the police can allege in court that a car was stolen, but they then have to prove it with evidence. If you say a person did something illegal you are making an allegation. Unless you can back it up, you will not be able to win a court case about it. A person who has committed a crime. has made a complaint of police misconduct. It is also common for police officer(s) to pursue a The party presenting evidence in court on behalf of the state or Commonwealth government against a person accused of committing a crime. Also called the Crown. more aggressively when a complaint has been made against the A person who swears an affidavit stating that an offence has occurred and is named on the documents that start a criminal case in court. The informant is usually a police officer, but can also be the victim of the crime. Not to be confused with an informer., a corroborator, or another police officer involved in the police investigation.
In addition, while it is a disciplinary offence for PSC officers to A document signed by parties ending a court action. The party who began the action agrees to drop it, often in exchange for a payment by the other party. Also called terms of settlement. statements of complaint to other police officers, this has happened. These are all factors to consider when you are waiting for your criminal charge(s) to be finalised and before making a complaint about police misconduct relating to the same incident.
If you have been charged, or are likely to be charged, with an offence that is related to the incident you are complaining about, you should get legal advice before making a complaint (see Chapter 2.4: Legal services that can help).
Note that if police officer(s) (1) A statement giving the details of a crime an accused person is claimed to have committed. (2) A personal property security. (3) A judge’s directions to a jury at the end of a case. you with a criminal offence, or add charges, after you lodge a complaint about police misconduct, you may be able to claim malicious prosecution in a future civil case. However, you A document that sets out what a person wants to happen to their money and other property after they die. only be able to do this if the charges resolve in your favour.
Consequences of delaying lodging a complaint
Your complaint about police misconduct can be negatively affected if you decide to not lodge a complaint until after your An independent body that hears legal claims brought by parties and decides between them. Serious cases are heard by a judge and jury, or just a judge. Less-serious cases are heard by a magistrate. case, and your (1) A defendant’s response to the legal claims made against them in court by a prosecutor or plaintiff. (2) A lawful excuse for conduct: for example, causing minor injuries to someone while saving them from certain death. (3) ‘The defence’ is also a way of referring to the defendant and their legal team. to the charges against you includes allegations of improper behaviour by police officers. The fact that you have not yet lodged a complaint can be used against you in court to suggest that you are making up the allegations just to help your court case.
In addition, some police investigators consider complaints that are not lodged straightaway to be less credible that those lodged quickly after an incident.
Also, the chances of your complaint being substantiated may be reduced because the police officer(s) about whom you are complaining will have had a chance to discuss their version of events with each other.
If you decide to delay lodging your complaint, you should still complete all the steps in ‘Collecting evidence’, above. Doing this will enhance your How believable a witness is in court when they claim to be telling the truth. See also independent witness; interested witness. and increase the chances of your complaint being proved to be true. You should also write down your reasons for delaying lodging your complaint.