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13. IF THE POLICE DONT READ ME MY RIGHTS, CAN MY CASE BE DISMISSED?

The mere fact that a person’s rights were not brought to his attention, does not automatically result in the dismissal of the charges. If the fact that an accused does not know his rights renders his trial unfair or negatively impacts on the administration of justice, he can be acquitted at trial.

Here follows some examples where courts have ruled a trial to be unfair:

  • Where a suspect was not informed of his right to remain silent and not to incriminate himself, and he points out to the police where he hid stolen goods, he may be acquitted at trial because he has a right not to incriminate himself.1
  • Where an accused was not informed of his right to legal representation and right to apply for legal aid, and was subsequently convicted after conducting his own defence.2

1S v Soci 1998 (2) SACR 275 (E)

2 MOETJIE v THE STATE AND ANOTHER 2009 (1) SACR 95 (T)  

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