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VIC Valid Police Statement? Compulsory to Go to Court?

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by lg98, 21 April 2015.

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  1. lg98

    lg98 Member

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    Ok basically at the start of 2014 my 15 year old daughter gave a statement on a fight she saw down by the beach. The police here in Australia never contacted me or her guardian asking for permission so I dont know if it is a valid statement nor was I even aware that this had taken place until today. Anyways she got handed a court summons by the police and has to go into court to give her statement ....she is now 17 in her last year of school and cannot recall the event or who it involved and looked blank when reading her own statement that she got given today. The police said if she fails to comply and go into the court house she will be arrested. She is extremely upset because she will need to take 2 days off of school to go in an give her statement and is currently in VCE but besides that she wanted to know if she could say she cannot recall the event and would therefore conclude that her statement is invalid and cannot be used.
     
  2. hlly

    hlly Well-Known Member

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    It's perfectly legal for your daughter to go to court and simply say that she can't remember what happened. In fact, it would be illegal to do anything else. She must answer the questions truthfully, even if that means admitting that she doesn't know.

    Unfortunately there's no way to get out of turning up.
     
  3. lg98

    lg98 Member

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    In January 2014 my 15 year old daughter gave a statement on a fight she saw down by the beach. The police here in Australia never contacted me or her guardian asking for permission so I dont know if it is a valid statement nor was I even aware that this had taken place until today. Anyways she got handed a court summons by the police and has to go into court to give her statement ....she is now 17 in her last year of school and cannot recall the event or who it involved and looked blank when reading her own statement that she got given today. The police said if she fails to comply and go into the court house she will be arrested. She suffers from insomnia and has many medical certificates that allow her to miss a certain amount of school.. she has spoken to her doctors about this court thing and they do not want her to have to go in because it will only add stress and make her worse.

    If the doctor writes this down and says she is not mentally fit enough for court could she get out of going ? If so, who would she give this letter to?
     
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    What sort of statement? Did she sign a policeman's notebook at the scene, or was she formally interviewed at a police station (even if not arrested herself)?
    You don't get to decide what's "valid" and what isn't. More broadly, you basically don't have any "parental authority" at all here.
    That's quite common, with the passing of time.
    But if she says it in court, then it had better be the truth.

    It's pretty simple - once the summons has been issued, then she has to go to court.
    And when she gets there, she has to tell the truth, and all of it, and only the truth,
    in accordance with the oath she will take as a witness.
    Even if (especially if!) the truth is that with the passing of time, she does not remember.

    If she lies under oath (including lying by leaving stuff out, or by pretending to be unsure,
    or by pretending to not remember stuff), or if she attempts to pervert the course of justice by over-stating illness (let alone making one up!) then she can be committing an offence herself.
    That is not automatic, but yes, it is a very real possibility.
    Parental over-reaction will not be helping.
    Often, but not always and not automatically.
    If I was the defence, then, depending on the seriousness of the charge(s),
    I would not rule out making an application for her to be assessed by a court-appointed doctor, rather than just meekly accept the word of some suburban GP.
    And if her mental health was in question, then I would almost certainly seek to have her examined by a psychiatrist. By court order if necessary.

    You can see, I hope, how the fight to get out of it, might turn out to be more difficult than actually turning up.
    It will take time, and cost money, cause her additional stress (and distress), and may not work.

    Do seriously consider that the path of least difficulty for her might actually be
    to just do it, and let it be over.
     

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