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Duty To Help Investigation

What the law says

Section 16 of the Coroners Act, Queensland states:

  1. This section applies if-
    • (a) a coroner is investigating a death; and
    • (b) the coroner reasonably believes a person may be able to give the coroner information that is relevant to the investigation. 
  2. The coroner may require the person to give the coroner information that is relevant to the investigation.
  3. The requirement may be made orally or in writing.
  4. When making the requirement, the coroner must warn the person it is an offence to fail to give the information unless the person has a reasonable excuse.
  5. The person must give the information, unless the person has a reasonable excuse.

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. A Coroner is investigating a death; AND
  2. The Coroner reasonably believes that the accused might have been able to give him/her information that was relevant to the investigation;AND
  3. The Coroner required the accused the give him/her information that was relevant to the investigation either orally or in writing; AND
  4. The accused failed to give the information required.

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.

Maximum penalty

The maximum penalty for the offence is 1 year imprisonment.

Which court will hear the matter

Under section 3(5) of the Criminal Code Act  Queensland this offence is classed a simple offence and therefore may be heard in the Magistrates Court pursuant to section 19 of the Justices Act Queensland.

It also possible that your matter will be heard in the District Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to the offence include, but are not limited to:

  1. The Coroner's belief that you had information was not reasonable.
  2. The Coroner did not warn you that you must give the information unless you have a reasonable excuse.
  3. You in fact gave the information required by the Coroner.
  4. The Coroner did not in fact require you to give him/her any information.
  5. You had a reasonable excuse, for example: You honestly did not have knowledge of the information required or could not remember.
  6. Duress - example: there was a threat of harm to the accused or another person that the accused reasonably believe would be carried out if he/she helped the Coroner.
  7. Insanity.
  8. Identification i.e. the accused was not the offender.
 

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