Forensic procedures are part of a police investigations. It generally involves taking a sample from a person for investigative purposes. It’s important you understand your rights when it comes to taking part in forensic procedures.
What is a forensic procedure?
Common forensic procedures include taking finger, toe, feet or hand prints, photos or a saliva sample of a person’s mouth. These – and are range of others – are then used as evidence to assist police in solving a crime. There are two classifications of forensic procedures:
- A non-intimate forensic procedure may involve taking a sample of blood, saliva or hair or an external examination of a body part, other than an intimate body part.
- An intimate forensic procedure may involve an external examination of genitals, anus, buttock, breasts, an internal body cavity other than the mouth and the taking of samples of pubic hair.
Forensic procedures cannot be carried out on children under the age of 10. Photos and videos cannot be obtained by police during the procedure.
Who undertakes the forensic procedure?
A police officer can carry out the forensic procedure on an individual after they have made an application for an order authorising the procedure to be carried out. The police officer must be satisfied that:
- there are reasonable grounds to suspect that someone has committed a serious offence;
- there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the forensic procedure could produce material of value to the investigation of the offence; and
- it is in the interests of the public to allow the forensic procedure to go ahead.
Before a person is deemed to have given their consent, police must follow a number of procedures such as:
- providing the person with a range of information about the procedure to be carried out
- Advise that evidence can be used in court
- Give the person the opportunity to contact their lawyer before consenting to the procedure
What if I decline to have my DNA taken?
If you refuse permission to have a forensic procedure carried out, the police can apply for an order from the Magistrate to have the procedure carried out. If you again refuse to cooperate after this order has been granted, the police officer/s are allowed to use force to obtain your DNA.
If an adult is not capable of providing their consent to a forensic procedure, the police are not allowed to carry out the procedure at all, unless a court order is obtained. This is also applicable to obtaining DNA from children.
It is highly recommended you seek legal advice if you have been ordered to undertake a forensic procedure. An experienced criminal lawyer can speak to the police about the alleged crime and purpose of the procedure, and advise you on your next course of action.