When drunk people meet police: Lawyer's advice

"THE sharp end of the interface" between citizens and police often happens at 2am, on the street outside bars and after a few drinks.

That is according to Nyst Legal solicitor Chris Nyst who said courts needed to scrutinise cases which involved alcohol-related offences "very carefully".

Mr Nyst said it was not common for the accused to defend their actions after a night on the town but they were cases which met some prejudice.

"The difficulties in the prosecution on what I call street offences, that's to say things that happen in hotels and nightclubs late at night and even out on the street, involving contact between citizens and police where very often the citizen is won out (and) very often the citizen has been drinking and that leads to an immediate concern as to how much of their recollection is correct and that flows over into a court room situation," Mr Nyst said.

"But also it flows into a prejudice in the sense that, because (the defendant) had been drinking or they were in a licensed premises or he or she had been out on the town with friends, (it is proposed) they were drunk or they behaved badly and that is not always the case.

"In a situation where a person is entirely innocent of any misbehaviour it can work strongly against them."

Mr Nyst said 80 to 90% of charges were met with a plea of guilty because defendants felt "outnumbered in what police are saying".

"Very often the allegations are presented early on paper and they read very differently to how the defendant remembered it and the defendant can be over-awed by that picture that is painted about them," he said.

"I think there must be huge numbers of people who think they are not guilty but plead guilty for various pragmatic reasons.

"It's very important that courts scrutinise these kinds of cases very carefully because they are the sharp end of the interface between the citizen and the state and a lot of particularity younger people the first real contact they will have with police are in these kinds of circumstances.

"So it is important that people behave themselves on both sides and it's important if people misbehave that they are not rewarded for their misbehaviour.

"The view the community take of police is often formed in those interactions early in people's lives."

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