Arrest and Police Rights

Arrest – Do You Know Your Rights with Police?

One of the most important things to humans is our freedom. This is balanced with the need for the police to keep us and our communities safe, and one of the powers police have is the ability to arrest you.

However, a rise in popularity on the internet of videos depicting mainly American civilians refusing to acknowledge police power have left some in Australia confused as to what really should happen when you are arrested.

No warrant

A police officer, for example, does not need a warrant to arrest you if they have caught you committing an offence, they reasonably believe you broke the law, or they believe you are likely to hurt yourself or others. They must tell you why you are being arrested, and you can be arrested for offences relating to all aspects of the law that could carry a term of imprisonment, not just criminal law.

Police can also use the minimum amount of ‘reasonable force’ if necessary if you do not cooperate.

No ‘Miranda’

Australian police also do not need to read what is known in the US as “Miranda” rights. Police must, however, tell you that what you say can be used as evidence in court, while choosing to not say anything at all does not imply guilt.

Silence rights

As suggested, you do not have to answer police questions without worrying that your silence implies guilt, but you must supply the police with your personal details and your driver’s license.

Time limit after arrest to lay charges

Generally, police have four hours from the time of arrest to lay charges against you. However, each State and Territory may have slightly different laws.


Police may seek to fingerprint and photograph you, but the law regarding the forced extraction of obtaining DNA samples is more complex. For that reason, if you are arrested, it is advised that you seek the help of a lawyer. You may also choose to have a relative or friend with you during interrogation instead of a lawyer.

Phone call

As is well known from American movies, Australians who are arrested also have the right to make a phone call. The exception to this rule is if the police suspect that the phone call is being made for a criminal purpose, for example, to order the destruction of evidence. For arrested people who struggle with English, the police must supply an interpreter.

Right to bail

If you’re arrested and are eligible for bail, the police must not only let you know, but give you instructions as to how to apply for bail.

For more information on your criminal law rights or if a family member needs help, book with a criminal lawyer today.

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