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Australian crime commission

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555

John Sutton

The Australian Crime Commission (AUSTRALIAN CRIME COMMISSION) is our national criminal intelligence agency and investigates serious and organised crime in Australia. This article answers commonly asked questions in relation to the investigative functions of the commission including: Do I have to attend? Do I have to answer questions? What will happen at the examination? Do I have to incriminate myself? Do I need a lawyer?

Do I have to attend?

If you receive a summons from the Australian Crime Commission you must attend.. If you don’t attend the Australian Crime Commission a warrant for your arrest may be issued.

Do I have to answer questions?

During the examination, as a witness you are required to take an oath or affirmation to tell the truth. You must answer all questions, and/or provide documents. If you don’t answer questions or hand over documents required you are in contempt of the Australian Crime Commission. If the examiner believes you are in contempt, they can detain you. The penalty for contempt is a $22,000 fine or a maximum of five years in gaol.

What will happen at your examination?

The examiner will examine and cross examine you on any matter they believe is relevant to the investigation. When before the examiner, you must not lie. If you lie or mislead the examiner you face either a $22,000 fine or a maximum of five years in jail (gaol).

The length of the examination depends heavily on what is being investigated.

Protection against self incrimination

When providing evidence you are only immune from later prosecution if you tell the Australian Crime Commission that the evidence might be self incriminating before giving the evidence. If you do tell the Australian Crime Commission , your response to those questions cannot be used as evidence against you in later criminal proceedings.

However, the authorities can use your answers to collect other evidence against you. For example they may ask you where a murder weapon is. You could advise the Australian Crime Commission that the evidence might be self incriminating and they cannot use your answer against you. They could however locate the weapon from where you said it was hidden and perhaps find your DNA or fingerprints on the weapon. The murder weapon, fingerprint and DNA evidence can be used against you.

Do I need a lawyer?

Yes. The examiner is not independent like a magistrate or judge. They work for the Australian Crime Commission. They are keen to obtain evidence from you to solve a crime. They will ask you probing questions, which you must answer. Without a lawyer to protect you, you are likely not to object to offensive or misleading questions.

Objections can be raised where the examiner is bombarding you with questions or misquoting evidence. When an objection is raised, the information then provided cannot be used against you. An experienced lawyer will know what questions are unfair and raise objections when needed. They will ensure your interests are protected as best they can be. They may also be able to remind you that the evidence that you may give might incriminate you.

Non disclosure of evidence

At the end of an examination, the examiner gives both a recording of the proceedings and all documents/things to the head of the Australian Crime Commission investigation. The examiner normally orders that no information provided is to be published. If you publish this information, you face a $2,200 fine or a maximum of 12 months in jail.

The Australian Crime Commission only investigates matters, they do not prosecute. They hand over evidence found to either the Attorney General or the police. Since there are no judicial findings, there is no appeal process available to the Australian Crime Commission examination.


where to next?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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