Investigative or ‘coercive’ hearings are becoming increasingly common as a tool used by law enforcement agencies to investigate allegations of serious criminal conduct. These hearings are conducted by government bodies such as the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC), the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) or the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DRNME).
If you’ve been served with a Notice requiring you to attend a hearing or produce documents, it is vital that you obtain legal advice regarding your rights and obligations prior to hearing.
The rules and regulations concerning the conduct of investigative hearings are onerous and the penalties for non-compliance are severe. Not only are witnesses in investigative hearings required to answer questions, but they must answer those questions even in circumstances where the answers might tend to incriminate them. There is no ‘right to silence’.
If a witness fails to answer the questions asked of them or tells a lie in their evidence, they may be charged with serious criminal offences such as contempt or perjury and face serious penalties, including actual imprisonment.
Our experienced solicitors have been involved in many such hearings over the years, with significant experience and expertise in this area.