Call Our National Legal Hotline

1300 038 223
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 days
Or have our lawyers call you:

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Fingerprinting (Vic)


The laws for fingerprinting in Victoria are contained in the Crimes Act 1958. The procedure for taking fingerprints depends on the age of the person. A police officer can require fingerprints if the officer reasonably believes the person has committed an indictable offence (a serious offence that carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment).

Process

A finger scanner is usually used to take fingerprints and the “Livescan” process usually takes no longer than 15 minutes. A print is taken of each finger, and the full palm and outer edge (“writer’s palm”) of each hand. Ink fingerprints can be taken for purposes such as immigration and employment.

If fingerprints are taken under a court order or reasonable force is necessary to take them, a person of the same sex as the person to be fingerprinted must take them, if practicable.

Adults and children aged 15 and above

A police officer must ensure the person is told:

  • why the fingerprints are needed;
  • the offence the person is suspected of committing;
  • that the fingerprints may be used in evidence in court;
  • that if the person refuses to submit to the procedure, force may be used;
  • that the fingerprints will be destroyed after six months if the person has not been charged with an offence or has been found not guilty of the offence.

The giving of this information and the person’s responses must be recorded by audio recording or audio-visual recording, or in writing signed by the person.

If fingerprints are required from a child aged 15, 16 or 17, the child must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or independent adult, during the request for fingerprints, the giving of the above information and the taking of the fingerprints. If the use of reasonable force is required, the procedure must be recorded by audio recording or audio-visual recording. If a person has a cognitive disability or mental illness, the officer must ensure an independent third person is present.

Children aged 10 to 14

A child in this age bracket can be fingerprinted by a police officer if both the child and their parent or guardian consent, or by order of the Children’s Court.

A police officer must ensure the child and the child’s parent or guardian is told:

  • why the fingerprints are needed;
  • the offence the child is suspected of committing;
  • that the fingerprints may be used in evidence in court;
  • that the parent or guardian may refuse consent to fingerprinting of the child;
  • that if consent is refused, the officer can apply to the Children’s Court for an order directing the child to give fingerprints;
  • that the fingerprints will be destroyed after six months if the child has not been charged with an offence or has been found not guilty of the offence.

The parent or guardian must be present during the request for fingerprints, the giving of the above information and the taking of the fingerprints with consent. The giving of this information and the responses from the child or their parent or guardian must be recorded by audio recording or audio-visual recording, or in writing signed by the child and their parent or guardian.

Children’s Court order

If a parent or guardian refuses consent to their child’s fingerprinting, or the parent or guardian cannot be located, a police officer can apply to the Children’s Court for an order. The application must be in writing and accompanied by evidence. Notice of the application must be served on the child and their parent or guardian.

The court can make an order if it is satisfied there are reasonable grounds to believe the child has committed an indictable offence and in all the circumstances making an order is justified. In deciding, the court can consider, the seriousness of the offence, the degree of participation by the child in the offence, and the child’s age.

If an order is made, a parent or guardian (or an independent person if a parent or guardian cannot be located) must be present for the fingerprinting. A police officer is entitled to use reasonable force, if necessary, to take the fingerprints. The procedure must be recorded by audio recording or audio-visual recording.

After making an order, the Children’s Court can also issue a warrant authorising a person to break, enter and search a place for a child, to arrest the child, and to take the child to a police station to have fingerprints taken.

Children under 10

A police officer cannot require fingerprints from a child aged under 10 who is suspected of committing an act which would have been an offence had they been aged 10 or over (the age of criminal responsibility).

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Armstrong Legal
Social Rating
4.8
Based on 332 reviews
×
Legal Hotline
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223