Your Rights Under Arrest

After you arrive at the police station, a senior police officer will give you a form explaining your rights. If they don’t do this, you should ask for it. You have the right to:

  • Remain silent
  • A phone call and support,
  • Have an adult present (if you are under 18),
  • An interpreter (if English is not your first language),
  • Be treated as innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a court, and the right to lodge a complaint if you are mistreated by police or denied any of the above rights,
  • Medical assistance if you reasonably request it, or if it appears to the police that you require it. Police must immediately organise medical attention for you in such cases, and
  • Refreshments and access to a bathroom. The police must provide you with reasonable refreshments and reasonable access to toilet facilities. They must provide you with facilities.

Remember!

If you don't know why you are being arrested, you should ask! You do not have to go with the police unless you are under arrest. If you are arrested, it is an offence to resist or abuse the police.

How long can you be held at a Police Station? Police only have a reasonable time to interview you and carry out further investigations once you have been detained. A reasonable time is less than 4 hours, unless the police apply for the period to be extended (by detention warrant) up to a further 8 hours.

In reality there are a number of procedures that are not included in the reasonable time period including the charging process that can often take 2 hours or more.

Should you be interviewed by Police? The decision as to whether to take part in an interview is often a difficult one to make and there are often advantages and disadvantages of doing so. Each case is unique and our advice often varies from case to case whether someone should take part in an interview or not.

It should be made clear that no unfavourable inference can be drawn rom a person refusing or failing to answer one or more questions in the course of official questioning. However, there are a number of laws that require a person to provide a response to police. If the person fails to provide a response, the person may be guilty of a criminal offence. Advantages and disadvantages of taking part in an interview

Advantages

  • Your denial if accepted may mean that police do not charge you with a criminal offence.
  • Your version may be more readily accepted by the court because you told the police what you knew at the time of your arrest and before seeing the witness statements.
  • The court must take into account your remorse when sentencing you. 4. Failure to answer a question may be an offence.

Disadvantages

  • Police often do not have enough evidence against the suspect to prove the offence when they question them. You may say something that may help the police prove the case against you.
  • Providing a version of events to police often will not influence the police officers decision to issue a court attendance notice or not.
  • The interview process can often be very stressful and this may lead you to be confused or mistaken about what actually occurred. Often suspects who are interviewed will give an incorrect version of events and after reading the witness statements they remember what occurred. It is always difficult for an accused person to convince a court that they were mistaken about the facts and have not changed their evidence to support their case.
  • If you are going to implicate others in the crime, there may be repercussions especially if you are likely to remain in custody.

Information that may assist you in making the decision You or your solicitor may be able to obtain information from the police officer investigating your matter. Details in respect of the following matters may assist you making this decision:

  • Whether participation in a record of interview will effect their decision re issuing a court attendance notice?
  • against you? (ask them to show you the evidence)
  • Whether you are likely to be granted bail?
  • Whether it is an offence to fail to provide an answer to any question?

Remember!

You have the right to remain silent. Once arrested, you can refuse to answer all questions police ask you except your name and address. Be very careful what you say to and around police. Any comments you make can be used as evidence against you in court, even if they are overheard by a police officer in the context of a phone conversation to a friend. Remember no conversation with a police officer is off the record.

If you choose not to answer police questions (other than your name and address) just say "no comment", or "I don’t want to answer at this stage" to every question. It is important to be clear and consistent on this. Even if police ask you why you aren’t cooperating, do not change your reply. If you say "no comment" to some questions but answer others, a court may draw the conclusion that you had something to hide in relation to the questions you did not answer.

The contents of this article are provided as general information only and are not intended to be given as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.