Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) is Australia’s national criminal intelligence agency. It was formed when the Australian Crime Commission and CrimTrac merged to form a new agency in July 2016. ACIC operates within the Department of Home Affairs portfolio. It investigates serious and organised crime in Australia and provides intelligence to state, territory and national law enforcement agencies.
Do I Have To Attend?
Any person who receives a summons from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission must attend. If the person does not attend in response to a summons, a warrant for their arrest may be issued under Section 31 of the Australian Crime Commission Act 2002.
What Will Happen at the hearing?
iIf you are called 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 Criminal Intelligence Commission. If you give false or misleading evidence then under Section 33 of the Act, you may be convicted and receive a fine of 200 penalty units or five years imprisonment.
Protection Against Self Incrimination
When appearing at a hearing a person can seek to object to giving evidence on the basis of self-incrimination. This does not prevent them from having to answer the questions nor does it make them immune to prosecution by a law enforcement agency. It simply prevents the evidence given at the hearing from being used against them in a criminal or civil hearing.
A person should, before answering any questions, tell the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission that the evidence might be self-incriminating. If they do so, the responses cannot be used as evidence against them in later criminal proceedings.
That being said, law enforcement agencies can still use a person’s answers to investigate and gather other evidence to use against them.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Legal representation is not compulsory but it is strongly recommended. This is because the Commissioner or examiner conducting the hearing is not an independent person like a judge or a magistrate in a regular court. They work for the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. A lawyer can object to misleading or offensive questions. They can also object to any questions which have no basis, are confusing or are otherwise inappropriate.
An experienced lawyer will know what questions are unfair and raise objections when needed. They will ensure the person’s interests are protected as best they can be. They will also be able to advise the person about self-incrimination and when such concerns ought to be raised or placed on the record.
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 investigation. The examiner normally orders that no information provided is to be published. If a person shares or publishes information they have provided they could be convicted of an offence under Section 29B of the Act and be liable to 120 penalty units and/or imprisonment for two years. This includes sharing information about the mere existence of the hearing or what was being investigated.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission only investigates matters. It does not prosecute. It may however refer a matter to either the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and/or the police for prosecution. Since there are no judicial findings, there is no appeal process available to the examination.
If you require any information about commissions or any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.