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    A complete guide to the question, can police ask for ID in NSW?

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      Can Police Ask for ID in NSW

      To the average layperson, a common question they may ask is, can police ask for ID in NSW?

      While police have a significant number of powers to compel citizens to provide information, this is not unlimited.

      For the most part, these powers are contained in legislation which make them easily accessible.

      The following information will assist in understanding these powers as well as your rights in refusing to comply when police are overreaching.

      Can Police Ask for ID in NSW?

      Police can ask for ID in NSW if they suspect on reasonable grounds that you may be able to assist in the investigation of an indictable offence.

      This could be because you were in the vicinity of an incident or they have received information that you may have knowledge of the alleged offence.

      This power is contained in section 11(1) of  the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW) – also known as LEPRA.

      Police can also ask you to disclose your identity if they intend to give you a ‘move on direction’. This is an order under Part 14 of LEPRA requiring a person to leave a specific place.

      Other examples of situations where the police can ask you to provide your name and address include:

      • you are driving a car and police suspect you of committing a traffic offence;
      • you are driving a car and are stopped for a breath test;
      • police suspect that an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) has been made against you;
      • you are suspected of committing an offence on a train or railway property;
      • you are under the age of 18 and suspected of consuming alcohol in public;
      • you are being arrested;
      • police are trying to serve a fine default warrant on you.

      It is important to note that if police ask for your details, you can ask them why they require that information. If they do not have a lawful reason to ask for your identification, then you do not have to disclose it.  

      Police must also advise you of the consequences of failing to comply with their request. If they are in plain clothes, they must also produce identification to prove that they are in fact a police officer.

      If a police officer requires you to provide photographic identification, they can also ask you to remove any face covering to allow them to see your face. If they do this, they must first ask for your permission and conduct the viewing in a way that provides reasonable privacy as quickly as possible. If you do not remove your face covering without special justification you may be committing an offence.

      What is the Penalty for Not Giving Your ID to Police?

      The penalty for not giving your ID to police is a fine of $220. This contained in section 12 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW).

      The same penalty applies if you provide police with a false name or address.

      Emergency Powers

      At times there may be emergency powers introduced by the government which mandate additional circumstances where you must disclose your identity to police. A recent example of this was the pandemic lockdown which led to the introduction of public health orders.

      This allowed police to compel a person to provide their name and address if they suspected you were in breach of the COVID lockdown orders. This power was contained in section 112 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW).

      If a person did not provide their name and address, they could receive a maximum penalty of $5,500 under section 113 of the Public Health Act.

      However, Police also had the option of issuing an on-the-spot fine of $1,000 for individuals or $5,000 for corporations.

      If a person provided police with a false name and address, the maximum penalty increased to an $11,000 fine, and/or 6-months imprisonment.

      If you would like more information on your rights, you can contact Astor Legal on (02) 7804 2823 or email info@astorlegal.com.au. Our team of specialist criminal defence lawyers in Sydney have years of experience in addressing police misconduct and having fines dismissed.

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