Posted on 6/07/2015
In the Sunday mail newspaper and on Channel 7 yesterday in a series of articles , Rugby player Karmichael Hunt made mention of the reasons for naming other persons including other professional sportsman in his statement to police. Words such as “compelled” were used and an inference that he had no choice, was left with the reader/viewer. We felt that this may leave clients or potential clients of our firm with a misleading view of what you can and can’t do, and when you have a choice when facing dealings with the Crime and Corruption Commission in Queensland (“CCC”).
The CCC can summons to you to give evidence in a closed hearing. Depending on the type of summons it can be a secret hearing ( you can’t tell anyone other than your lawyer that you have gone or what you said) or a closed hearing where you cannot divulge the contents of what was said. Evidence given under oath in these hearings is compelled i.e you have to answer. If you refuse to answer a question or co-operate with the CCC in the hearing you face a period of imprisonment, and persons have been jailed for up to 18 months for doing so. You can then be compelled back again to start again, risking more imprisonment. The only protection the law provides here is that what you say cannot be used against you because this would offend against any right of self incrimination, BUT only if you seek that immunity, and this is usually done at the beginning of proceedings. So Mr Hunt was right to that extent. That evidence given on oath and compelled to be given, may be given to certain law enforcement agencies to further investigations into alleged illegal activities, but it isn’t used in court against you, or others for that matter.
BUT the main way this evidence is used against others is if you consent to it being used. The statement released by News Ltd last week was a standard police statement, signed pursuant to the Oaths Act, the type of which criminal lawyers and police in Queensland see every day. No one is ever compelled to give police statement in that form. No one is ever compelled to give a statement pursuant to s13A of the Penalties and Sentences Act. Section 13A is the law that provides persons that co-operate voluntarily with law enforcement agencies, with a benefit by way of a reduced sentence on the basis of what the statement contains and their offer to give that evidence if called upon to do so. Sometimes it may be a reduced charge as well. All of that is supposed to remain confidential as well i.e what the benefit was.
Personal motivations for doing so will vary, but the main ones are
And every person’s reasons will be their own.
However that isn’t the end of it. Once you do this you have to give a written undertaking or promise to give evidence in accordance with your statement to get the lesser penalty. The Court also tell you what you would have got had you not co-operated. If you fail to give evidence in accordance with the statement then you are dragged back to court and given the higher penalty. So if anyone accused of an offence in such a statement fights the charge the maker of the statement has to give that evidence in open court. Evidence they voluntarily gave and promised to give in return for a benefit.
So in short you are compelled to answer questions in a CCC hearing, but not compelled to follow up with a police statement unless you choose to do so. Seek legal advice before making any such decisions.
We hope that clears up any confusion our clients may have over dealings with the CCC and choices they can make.