Protecting yourself when Under Arrest
Being arrested will be a frightening, traumatic and confusing time for most people. While it is important to be cooperative with Police, it is also extremely important that you understand your rights and are prepared to be sure that they are respected and upheld.
Policing is an important and necessary part of everyday life. Indeed, we come into contact with Police Officers regularly, whether it is when Police are patrolling, undertaking traffic duties or taking part in community events. However, sometimes we can come into contact with Police in somewhat less amicable circumstances such as during the investigation of a crime, your involvement in an investigation or your own arrest.
This article will give a brief introduction to the process and powers of arrest, and what your rights are as an arrested person. Remember that getting the right advice from a specialist criminal lawyer can be crucial in getting through the arresting process with your livelihood intact.
It is important to remember that this is only an introduction and that for more information contact your specialist criminal lawyer.
Powers of Arrest
You may become a suspect in a crime by having been in the proximity of a crime that has been committed. Others may have seen or heard something which may bring you under suspicion from Police that you committed, or were involved in the commission of, an offence.
The powers of arrest are given to all Police Constables and allow them to arrest any person who they reasonably suspect of having committed an offence, or are about to commit an offence. This power is fundamental to the operation of the Police and of the law. In order to uphold the law, Police must have the ability to be able to detain and question those who they suspect have committed a crime.
You cannot be arrested to simply answer questions. If Police wish for you to help them with their investigation into a crime your cooperation is voluntary. However, while cooperation with these inquiries is generally advised, and you should insist on having a legal representative present during these interviews.
When arresting you the Police Constable involved should make it clear that they are in fact arresting you and direct you on how to comply with the order, such as accompanying them to a Police station. Police are allowed to use reasonable physical force such as holding and handcuffing to make you comply with the arrest. If you believe that unreasonable violence was used in your arrest your legal representative will be able to advise you of further action that can be taken.
You should be aware that resisting lawful arrest is a serious offence and you are best advised to comply with the arrest. Even if you are innocent of the offence, if you resist them Police may wish to charge you with resisting arrest if nothing else.
What happens after being Arrested?
The following will occur after having been arrested:
- Police will take you to a Police station or similar in order for investigative interviews to take place;
- Police will want to take basic details from you such as your name, address and occupation;
- Police will take fingerprints, and photographs to assist their investigations;
- The Police Custody Manager will inform you of your rights to contact an external person such as a relative, friend or legal representative;
- Police must inform you that you will be held for a period of four hours, with the possibility of a further extension, before being charged;
- Police will then undertake investigative interviews with you asking you questions about the crime they believe you were involved in; and
- Police may then choose to charge you with a crime before a Magistrate or release you.
What are my rights under Arrest?
While the powers of arrest are fundamental to the operation of the Police and their upholding of the law, equally as important are the countervailing civil rights of those who have been arrested. The Police are required by law to allow an arrested person the following rights:
- Police may not hold you for an unreasonable period without charge. Police are allowed to hold a person for four hours (without warrant) in order to undertake an investigation, or can apply for a warrant to hold a suspect for a further eight hours;
- You have the right to have a legal representative present during the interviews; and
- You have the right to not answer any specific questions, unless compelled by a specific law (such as offences regarding motor vehicles and the investigation of terrorist activities) to do so. Police must inform you that any answers you give may be used in evidence against you in court.
You are compelled to submit to fingerprinting and a personal search. Though, searches are limited to the following:
- Quick search of outer garments and bags; and
- Scanning with a metal detector.
Police cannot compel you to participate in identification parades that feature in many television programs, though witnesses may be asked to identify you from a collection of photographs.
Getting the right representation
Being arrested will be a traumatic experience, and it can be easy to feel intimidated and forget to ensure that your rights are protected. It is therefore important that you have the right legal representation present to ensure that you have all the right information and alternatives in mind.
If you arrested, ensure that you have the best chance of getting through the arresting process with your livelihood intact by getting the good legal guidance. Call the criminal law specialists George Sten & Co. for the right advice.