In what circumstances can a Police officer arrest me?

A Police officer may arrest a person:

i) In the act of committing, or immediately after having committed an offence;
ii) If an officer, with reasonable cause, suspects a person of having committed or is about to commit an offence or crime;
iii) If there is a warrant out for his/her arrest;

Please remember that the police can’t take you anywhere unless you are placed under arrest or you agree to go. If police arrest you, they are obligated to tell you:

i) That you are under arrest;
ii) The reason for your arrest;
iii) The arresting officers name;
iv) What station the police are from.

In what circumstances can a Police officer stop and search me?

If a person has not been arrested then Police do not generally have the power to stop and search a person. The police may stop you in situations where they have specific legal authority to do so. For instance police have powers to:

i) Search a person whom the Police suspect on reasonable grounds has a dangerous implement in his or her custody ie a knife, firearm or other dangerous weapons;
ii) Stop persons and search motor vehicles, where the police suspect the person or vehicle is carrying anything stolen or anything that is unlawfully obtained;
iii) Stop and search a person or car, whom the Police reasonably suspect of having any prohibited plant or prohibited drug;
iv) Stop your car for the purposes of a random breath tests.

What are my rights under arrest?

Once you have been arrested you should be given a warning by Police about your right to remain silent. In most circumstances you must give police your name and address, but other than that you have the right to remain silent. The best advice is to refuse to answer any questions and contact a lawyer immediately. It is important that you contact a lawyer that has experience in criminal law. The fact that a person has exercised his/her right to remain silent should never be a concern as this could never be held against a person nor will it ever disadvantage a person.

If you are under arrest you may be detained by the Police for a period of 4 hours to enable the investigation to continue. The police can only detain you longer than the 4 hours if they are able to successfully apply for a warrant from a court. If a warrant is granted police can keep you for an additional 4 hours.

In most cases the police will want you to be electronically interviewed. There is no legal obligation for you to submit to an interview. In fact, the safest approach is to reject taking part in an interview and to exercise your right to silence until you have received proper legal advice from a lawyer.

Whilst in custody, you are entitled to contact a lawyer, friend or relative.

What happens if I am charged with a criminal offence?

If the police charge you with a criminal offence, the next step in the procedure is to determine the issue of bail. Police can refuse or grant bail from the police station. If police refuse a person bail they are required to, as soon as practicable, bring that person before a court so that a magistrate can independently determine the issue of bail.

Some handy tips:

i) When spoken to by police, try and stay cool, calm and collected.
ii) Try and be friendly and polite to police as this helps ensure that you are processed more expediently.