14 March 2010

Right to Legal Advise

People of Malaysia may not be fully aware that they have a right to a Solicitor when detained by the authorities. Under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, the Federal Constitution guarantees the right to a detained person to see his/her Solicitor.

A more specific area of law is Section 28A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). In Section 28A, the law explains at which point does a person detained, can call upon a solicitor. Quoted below is the entire Section 28A of the CPC.

Section 28A CPC

(1) A person arrested without a warrant, shall be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest by the police officer making the arrest.

(2) A police officer shall before commencing any form of questioning or recording of any statement from the person arrested, inform the person that he may :-

(a) communicate or attempt to communicate, with a relative or friend to inform of his whereabouts;


(b) communicate or attempt to communicate and consult with a legal practitioner of his choice.

(3) Where the person arrested wishes to communicate or attempt to communicate with the persons referred to in paragraphs (2)(a) and (b), the police officer shall, as soon as may be, allow the arrested person to do so.

(4) Where the person arrested has requested for a legal practitioner to be consulted the police officer shall allow a reasonable time-

(i) for the legal practitioner to be present to meet the person arrested at his place of detention;


(ii) for the consultation to take place.

(5) The consultation under subsection (4b) shall be within the sight of a police officer and in circumstances, in so far as practicable, where their communication will not be over heard

(6) The police officer shall defer any questioning or recording of any statement from the person arrested for a reasonable time until the communication or attempted communication under paragraph 2(b) or the consultation under subsection (4), has been made;

(7) The police officer shall provide reasonable facilities for the communication and consultation under this section and all such facilities provided shall be free of charge.

(8) The requirements under subsections (2) and (3) shall not apply where the police officer reasonably believes that-

(a) compliance with any of the requirements is likely to result in-

(i) an accomplice of the person arrested taking steps to avoid apprehension; or

(ii) the concealment, fabrication or destruction of evidence or the intimidation of a witness; or

(b) having regard to the safety of other persons the questioning or recording of any statement is so urgent that it should not be delayed.

(9) Subsection (8) shall only apply upon authorization by a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

(10) The police officer giving the authorization under paragraph (9) shall record the grounds of belief of the police officer that the conditions specified under subsection (8) will arise and such record shall be made as soon as practicable.

(11) The investigating officer shall comply with the requirements under subsections (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) as soon as possible after conditions specified under subsection (4) have ceased to apply where the person arrested is still under detention under this section or under section 117.

The General rule is very simple - a person arrested, can always call upon a Lawyer. The people must be made aware of this fundamental right. The moment a person is arrested by the police, the person must firstly be informed that the person is arrested, and for which crime (if any); and immediately must be accorded that right to meet a Solicitor.

The Police may deny the arrested person that right, only if Section 28A (8) above applies.

Nonetheless, Section 28A (8) is an exception to the said general rule above.

So, if you are ever arrested by (for example) the Police, inform the Police you wish to activate your rights under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution and you wish to meet a lawyer as soon as possible, as per S28A CPC. If the Police deny you that right, you may demand to lodge a Police Report against the Police, or later upon release, lodge a complaint with SUHAKAM. You may also contact the Bar Council.

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