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March 8, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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Laying down the law

Laying down the law

The red lights flashing and the blue shirts bustling, the loud music and the sweet, soft, metallic click of handcuffs. It happens to the best of us I suppose. Controlled by the dark demon which hides within the clichéd Lady Gaga dance remixes, overcome by the incubus which lives deep within the Red Bull and vodkas, we overstep the law and get our very own (albeit unwanted) tour of Wellington Central police cells.

Somewhere during this process, inevitably one performs a quick assessment of the probability of one’s escape. The natural question being “should I try to run?” While the body mass index of the arresting officer and the obstacles provided by the stumbling town-goers may work in your favour, ultimately running is probably not going to be the best idea.

As the demons disappear and you start to sober up, a series of other questions should rush into your mind. What happens now? What can an officer do after you’ve been arrested? What should happen at the station? When can you have access to a lawyer? How much will that cost? Should you make a statement in the meantime? Are you eligible for diversion? Does it matter if you’ve used it before?

The law is often fickle and confusing, inaccessible and mysterious. It doesn’t matter whether it’s questions relating to drunken evenings on Courtenay Place, dealings with a heartless employer or discovering that your landlady is as cold-blooded as a tuatara. The law can either be your best mate or your greatest foe… and it helps to know which.

This is where this column comes in. It’s a new initiative between Salient and the Law Students’ Society to answer some questions about the law that you may face throughout your time at Vic. Throughout the year we’ll be dealing with issues which may arise in employment law, law reform, tenancy, criminal law and so forth.

It’s important to note that this column is not legal advice, equally it should not be viewed as a substitute for legal advice. If you’ve got a problem, you should see a real lawyer rather than a bunch of students pretending to be grown-ups. The purpose of the column is to provide you with greater awareness of the law and the rights that you may possess under it as well as discussions of current legal issues.

If there are any particular legal issues that you would like to see discussed in this column, please email

So keep an eye out for it…. and stay out of trouble.

Nick Chapman
President 2010 | VUWLSS |

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