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Pretext calls in sexual assault investigations

For some time in NSW, it has become common practice for police investigating sexual assault allegations to record the person complaining of the sexual assault phoning the person suspected....

Justin Wong

For some time in NSW, it has become common practice for police investigating sexual assault allegations to record the person complaining of the sexual assault phoning the person suspected. Usually this occurs before a suspect is even contacted by police and aware they’re under investigation. If admissions are made, the recording might later be used in court as evidence against the suspect.

“Agent of the State?”

The use of the “pretext” call raises serious issues about an accused’s right to silence once they become a suspect. However superior courts in NSW have held that pretext calls are admissible in evidence provided a warrant has been obtained, and importantly provided the person making the calls is not acting as an “agent of the state”. This means, the person making the call would not have otherwise made the call, and made it in the way the call was made, but for the intervention of the police.

Early Legal Advice

Often admissions made by a suspect in a pretext call can be critical later at trial. Because of this, the “pretext call” highlights the need for anyone who thinks they might be subject to an allegation of sexual assault, to obtain legal advice as soon as possible, and even before police are involved.

If you need legal advice or suspect you might be under investigation, contact Streeton Lawyers on (02) 9025 9888.