I am circulating information about this scheme for distribution because many people, especially rangatahi, are not aware that they are entitled to speak with a lawyer under this scheme, even if they are only being questioned and have not yet been charged with an offence.
Help when you’re held, arrested or questioned by the Police
The Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA) service
If you don’t have your own lawyer and the Police have arrested or are holding you, you can talk to a lawyer for free under the Police Detention Legal Assistance (or PDLA) service. You can sometimes talk to a PDLA lawyer when the Police are just questioning you.
The Police have a list of the names and phone numbers of PDLA lawyers who are available to be contacted day or night, free of charge. Ask to see the list.
You can talk to a PDLA lawyer when:
you have been arrested you are being held (detained) without being arrested for example, if you are being searched for illegal drugs or weapons the Police are questioning you about an offence they suspect you have committed and they’ve told you that you have the right to talk to a lawyer.
This might be happening at the Police station, in your home, on the street, or anywhere else.
Do I have to show that I can’t afford a lawyer?
PDLA is available to everyone whether or not they can afford a lawyer.
Remember, before you answer any Police questions about an offence they suspect you of, always talk to a lawyer. Ask to see the list of PDLA lawyers and phone a lawyer from the list for advice.
How do I get in touch with a PDLA lawyer?
You will need to ask the Police to show you the list of PDLA lawyers, and then phone a lawyer from the list. If you don’t ask the Police for the list, they don’t have to show it to you.
Will I get to talk to the PDLA lawyer in person?
Usually the lawyer will talk to you over the phone. In complicated or serious cases, the lawyer may come to you.
You have the right to talk to the lawyer in private, either over the phone or face-to-face.
Young People and the Police
Young people can use the PDLA service: there is no minimum age.
If you are under 17 years of age, and the Police want to question you about an offence they suspect you have committed, they must first explain that you have the right to:
talk to a lawyer see a “nominated adult” – either a parent or another adult of your choice.
You have the right to talk privately with the lawyer and with the nominated adult.
The Police must also contact your parents or caregivers to tell them that you are being questioned or have being questioned or have been arrested.
Remember, before you answer any Police questions about an offence they suspect you of, always talk to a lawyer.
Ask to see the list of PDLA lawyers and phone a lawyer from the list for advice.
Rotorua District Community Law Centre
1276 Pukuatua Street
P O Box 879
tel (07) 348 8060
fax (07) 348 8061
Community Law Centres – Working Together to make a Difference.