Who can arrest me and why?

A Police officer can arrest you if, for example:-

  • You are committing an offence.
  • You have, or the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed an offence.
  • You have breached your bail conditions.
  • A warrant (written authority) has been issued for your arrest.
  • The officer needs to serve an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) on you or has a warrant for your arrest for serving an application for an AVO on you.
  • The officer wishes to apply for a provisional (urgent) AVO against you.

A private action can arrest you (citizen’s arrest) if:-

  • You are committing an offence.
  • You have committed an offence.

How should they arrest me?
The person arresting you should:-

  • Tell you that you are under arrest.
  • Tell you why you are under arrest.
  • A police officer should also tell you his/her name and place of duty.

If the person arresting you does not give you these details, do not get into a dispute with them. You can lodge a complaint later with either the Area Commander, the Commissioner of Police or the Ombudsman.

Can they use force to arrest me?
A police Officer may use as much force as is necessary to arrest you. Unreasonable force is an assault. After arrest, a police officer may handcuff you if, for example you attempt to escape or the police officer thinks that you may escape.

What happens if I resist arrest?
Even if you don’t think you are guilty of an offence or should be arrested it is wise to submit to the arrest. If you are charged with an offence you will have a chance at Court to explain your case. Even if you are innocent, the police may arrest you if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed an offence. It is an offence to resist arrest. If you use violence you may be charged with assaulting Police.

Do I have to submit to a search if I am arrested?
Police can search you when you have been arrested and again later at the police station.

Do I have to answer questions if I am under arrest?
In general you have a right to silence. In some circumstances you do have to give the police some information such as your name and address.

If you have been arrested in relation to particular offences you do not have to take part in an interview to answer questions about that offence. You should be advised of this by the Police, who should also warn you that anything you say to them may be used in evidence. It is up to you to decide whether or not to answer their questions. If you are unsure, you should wait until you have received legal advice before giving an interview.

If your arrest relates to a serious offence you may be asked if you want to take part in an interview which will be recorded on both audio and video. If you do you will be given a copy of the audio (sound) recording.

Do I have to submit to being fingerprinted or photographed?
The Police may take photographs, fingerprints and palm prints for identification.


This article was written by Michael Kirby, a solicitor who left Adams & Partners in 2014.

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