When Can An Arrest Be Made And What Are Your Legal Rights?
WHEN CAN AN ARREST BE MADE WITHOUT A WARRANT?
A police officer or public officer (a person authorised under a written law) may arrest a person, without a warrant, if they reasonably suspect that:
- (a) the person has committed, is committing, or is just about to commit, an offence; and
- (b) that if the person is not arrested —
- it will not be possible, in accordance with law, to obtain and verify the person’s name and other personal details; or
- the person will continue or repeat the offence; or
- the person will commit another offence; or
- the person will endanger another person’s safety or property; or
- the person will interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice; or
- the person will conceal or disturb a thing relevant to the offence; or
- the person’s safety will be endangered.
A police officer or public officer may arrest a person for a serious offence (an offence punishable for 5 years imprisonment or more, breaching a restraining order or an offence that involves as act of family or domestic violence), without a warrant, if the officer reasonably suspects that the person has committed, is committing, or is just about to commit, the offence.
POWERS OF OFFICERS UPON ARREST
For the purposes of making an arrest, a police officer or public officer may enter a place, or stop and enter a vehicle, in which the officer reasonably suspects the person is, and search it for the person.
If a person is under arrest for an offence for which the penalty includes imprisonment for 5 years or more, a police officer or public officer may also enter and search:
- the place in which the person was when he or she was arrested or from which the person fled immediately before being arrested; and
- any vehicle in which the person was when he or she was arrested or from which the person fled immediately before being arrested; and
- any vehicle that the person controls or manages, whether or not he or she was arrested in that vehicle.
If a person is under arrest for an offence for which the penalty includes imprisonment for 5 years or more, a police officer or public officer may also enter and search any place that the person occupies, controls or manages. However, prior to doing so, the officer must reasonably suspect that the place contains a thing or person relevant to the offence, and must have written approval to do so from a senior officer who is not involved in the investigation of the serious offence.
RIGHTS OF ARRESTED PERSONS
An arrested person is entitled to any necessary medical treatment and to a reasonable degree of privacy from the mass media. An arrested person is also entitled to a reasonable opportunity to communicate or attempt to communicate with a relative or a friend to inform them of their whereabouts.
An arrested person is also entitled —
- to be informed of the offence for which he or she has been arrested and any other offences that he or she is suspected of having committed;
- to be cautioned before being interviewed as a suspect;
- to a reasonable opportunity to communicate or to attempt to communicate with a legal practitioner; and
- if he or she is for any reason unable to understand or communicate in spoken English sufficiently, not to be interviewed until the services of an interpreter or other qualified person are available.
A person who is a young offender for the purposes of the Young Offenders Act 1994 has additional rights, including that a responsible person be notified prior to the young offender being questioned by police.
The officer in charge of the investigation must, as soon as practicable after the arrest of an arrested person, inform them of their rights and afford them their rights.
Usually a period of arrest must not exceed 6 hours – however this period can be extended in certain circumstances and with certain approvals.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ARRESTED
If you are arrested you should contact a legal practitioner as soon as possible. Usually a police officer will be able to provide you with the contact details for a lawyer, or at least with a copy of the Yellow Pages so that you can obtain the contact details for a lawyer.
You are required by law to provide the following details to a police officer when asked:
- your full name;
- your date of birth;
- the address where you are living;
- the address where you usually live.
However, you are not required to answer questions in relation to any offence that it is alleged that you have committed and you have the right to remain silent in this regard. It is usually prudent to exercise your right to remain silent until such time as you have had an opportunity to receive legal advice.