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Legal Information

Am I going to jail?

You may find yourself in jail (including a police watch house) if one of these things happens:

  • you are arrested and charged with a criminal offence and the police do not give you watch house bail before you go to court the first time
  • you have been to court but you put off your matter so you are on remand, and the court does not give you bail
  • you have been convicted but you are still waiting to be sentenced and the court does not give you bail
  • you are serving a sentence
  • if you are not an adult but you have been convicted of a criminal offence you may be sent somewhere which is like a jail.

How long will I have to spend in jail?

If you are on remand, or arrested and not given bail, you will stay in jail until your next court date and then you can apply for bail. Talk to your lawyer about this.

If you have been convicted and the court says you will be punished by going to jail (a jail sentence), the court will say how long you are to stay in jail. But you may not end up staying in jail for the whole time the court says. You can ask to talk to the Prisoners' Legal Service about how your sentence is calculated and parole and early release.

Young people and prison

If you are under 17 years old, you will be sent to a youth detention centre, which is where young people are detained.

You will be automatically transferred to an adult jail if:

  • you are over 17 when you are sentenced for an offence you committed when you were under 17 and you are sentenced to more than 6 months in custody, or
  • you turn 17 while serving a sentence in detention and you have 6 months or more left to serve in custody.

You will be given written notice of the transfer stating the date on which you are to be transferred. You cannot appeal a decision to be transferred to an adult prison. You should get legal advice.

What happens after I’ve been returned to jail after my parole has been suspended?

Your parole may have been suspended for a breach of a condition of your parole order, such as not reporting or returning a positive urine test. In this circumstance the Community Corrections office has power to suspend your parole for 28 days. After suspending the parole order the community corrections office sends a report to the parole board who then must decide whether to either suspend the order for a further period, cancel the order, or to let you out after 28 days (commonly known as a 28 day sanction).

If you have further questions you should contact the Prisoners' Legal Service.

Alternately, your parole may have been suspended because you have been charged with new offences, or there are new charges as well as a breach of parole conditions. In this case you should get legal advice.

I'm in jail, do I have any rights?

Yes you do:

  • To talk to a lawyer. You can ask to go on the list to get advice from a Legal Aid Queensland lawyer. If you already have a lawyer representing you, that lawyer can arrange to see you, to write to you and for you to telephone him/her.
  • Centrelink payments. Some types of Centrelink payments continue if you are on remand. You will need to check with Centrelink.
  • Visitors (non-lawyers). You can have visits of at least one hour each week and perhaps other special visits. But not everyone can visit you. Someone with a criminal conviction may not be allowed. Visitors may be searched, and cannot bring in some things like cigarettes and alcohol. Each jail has its own rules.
  • Letters and parcels. You can be sent these but the jail can read the letters and open the parcels and the jail may not let you have them if the jail thinks they are not suitable.
  • Telephone calls. You can pay to make calls to some people but the jail records calls and can listen in. You will usually have to get permission to put a person on your call list. People are not allowed to ring you unless there is a family crisis. You may also have access to call special numbers for free like Prisoners' Legal Service, Legal Aid Queensland and the Ombudsman.  The jail does not listen to these special calls.
  • Leave. You may be allowed to leave the jail for a time to work, to study, to see a doctor or dentist or for other compassionate reasons.
  • Complaints. You can complain in writing or see the official visitor.
  • Legal proceedings. You can sue for damages if you are serving less than three years in jail (if it is more than three years then you need the Public Trustee to agree).
  • Medical care. You can apply to see private doctors, but you must pay for this yourself.
  • Infant children. If you are female you may be able to keep your baby with you. You will need to apply to the jail.
  • Vote. If you are in prison, you can stay on the electoral roll or apply to enrol (with some exceptions). If you are serving a full time prison sentence of less than three years, you are allowed to vote in federal elections. If you are serving a sentence of three years or more, you are not allowed to vote in federal elections. You cannot vote in Queensland State and local government elections if you have been convicted and are serving a sentence of imprisonment, regardless of the length of your sentence. See Voting, census, jury duty.
  • Transfer. You can apply to transfer to another jail, including interstate.

I’m in jail and I need to see a doctor, what do I do?

You can list to see a doctor with the unit officer at the prison. If you are still not seen by a doctor, you can write a letter to the General Manager of the prison using the blue envelopes available at the prison. If you are still not seen by a doctor, then you may need to get legal advice. The Prisoners' Legal Service or Legal Aid Queensland may be able to assist you.

I’m in jail and I’m not getting the right medication, what do I do?

Any complaints regarding health care treatment can be made to the Health Ombudsman.

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Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you

  • are on remand, or arrested and not given bail, and you want to apply for bail
  • want to know how your sentence is calculated
  • have questions about parole or early release
  • have questions about the risk of deportation after sentencing
  • have new charges while on parole or while in custody
  • have had requests to see a doctor refused after writing to the General Manager of the prison.
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Where can I get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice about issues concerning prisons. We cannot give advice about internal prison matters.

The following organisations may also be able to help you.

Prisoners' Legal Service provides specialist advice to prisoners about parole applications, breaches of parole conditions, and issues within the prison, such as accommodation problems, transfer applications, disciplinary proceedings, and general advice and assistance regarding prison law and related matters.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

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Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to assist with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

Sisters Inside provide support for women and their families while they are in prison and post-release.

Probation and Parole has several roles including assisting courts and parole boards to assess an offenders suitability for community placement, and providing assistance to offenders once they are placed in the community.

Queensland Correctional Centres for Adults lists all correctional centres (prisons) operated by the Queensland government.

Queensland Corrective Services - Prisoner Location help determine whether a person is in their custody, and where they are being held.

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Disclaimer - Copyright © 1997 Legal Aid Queensland. This content is provided as an information source only and is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer. Legal Aid Queensland believes the information is accurate as at 3 June 2014 but accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions and denies all liability for any expenses, losses, damages and costs you might incur due to the information being inaccurate or incomplete in any way.

Last modified: 30 September 2014 12:54PM
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