Police Raids: Know Your Rights
ISFED shares public concern about recent raids in Tbilisi and deems it necessary to provide citizens with information about applicable legal rules and procedures prescribed by the Georgian laws.
Does a police officer have the right to a raid?
The police has the right to raid on motorways and territorial waters. These raids can be conducted in emergency or martial law, as well as for the purpose of arresting criminals and offenders.
When does a police officer have the right to stop a citizen?
The police are allowed to stop a citizen when there is a reasonable doubt(1) that a person concerned has committed a crime.
What does stopping a person entail?
Stopping a person entails communication with him/her, identification and asking questions. Police officer does not have the right to take the person concerned to a closed space (police department, or force him to get into the vehicle).
What you should know when a police officer stops you?
A police officer must identify himself/herself, present credentials and explain the right to appeal lawfulness and substantiation of stopping.
For how long can a police officer stop you?
A police officer can stop you for the period of time necessary to confirm or dispel a reasonable doubt, therefore the duration should be strictly limited by the period of time necessary to verify reasonable doubt. The person concerned must be released immediately after there is no longer a reason of stopping – as soon as reasonable doubt has been dispelled.
Does a police officer have the right to examine/search you and your personal items?
A police officer has the right to frisking clothes of person concerned when there is a reasonable doubt that his/her own safety might be at risk. Frisking is performed for security reasons. Therefore, a police officer has the right to frisk only when his/her security is at risk.
What does frisking entail?
Frisking may entail patting on clothes as well as use of technical means. Any activity that require showing of an unseen item or taking off a piece of clothing does not qualify as frisking.
Does frisking entail a search?
Frisking does not entail a search(2). Search may only be performed on the basis of court verdict or resolution in urgent necessities(3).
You have the right to request the following prior to search:
To have no more than two persons present during search or seizure, to confirm the process and its outcome. You also have the right to be given a reasonable time for inviting a witness but no less than one hour(4).
If your rights have been violated, you may:
Contact General Inspection of the Ministry of Interior Affairs (hotline number is 126) if a police officer is abusing or has abused his/her powers.
Do you have the right to file in court over unlawful actions of a police officer?
If a police officer has stopped you in violation of applicable stipulations of law, you have the right to file in court within five days after stopping, according to the place of stopping, over lawfulness and substantiation of stopping and claim pecuniary compensation for illegal and/or unsubstantiated stopping. Burden of proof about lawfulness of stopping rests solely on a police officer.
(1) Reasonable doubt – any doubt that a person concerned has possibly committed a crime should be based on facts or circumstances that would convince an objective observer that there is a ground for the doubt to arise.
(2) Search – search and seizure is performed when there is a reasonable doubt, for the purpose of finding and seizing an item, document, substance or any other object containing information, as well as a wanted person or a corpse, pertinent to a case.
(3) When there is a reasonable doubt that a person under arrest has a weapon or plans to get rid of incriminating evidence, a police officer has the right to perform search without court’s verdict.
(4) Performing search and seizure without a witness is allowed only in urgent necessity, when there is an imminent threat of that life or health of an individual or evidence may be destroyed.