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Who can arrest you and how?



There are two kinds of arrest. Arrest by a police officer and arrest by a private citizen (citizen's arrest).

It is very important that you know and understand your rights in relation to arrest.

A police officer can arrest you if:
  • You are committing an offence
  • You have, or he/she has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have, committed an offence
  • You have breached your bail conditions
  • A warrant (written authority) has been issued for your arrest
  • He/she needs to serve an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) on you or has a warrant for your arrest for serving an application for an AVO on you
  • He/she wishes to apply for a provisional (urgent) AVO against you

A private citizen can arrest you (citizen's arrest) if:

  • You are committing an offence
  • You have committed an offence

How can they arrest you?

The person arresting you should:

  • Tell you that you are under arrest
  • Tell you why you are being arrested
  • A police officer should also tell you his/ her name and place of duty.

Can they use force to arrest you?

A Police officer may use as much force as is necessary to arrest you. Unreasonable force is an assault. After arrest, a police officer may handcuff you if for example you attempt to escape or the police officer thinks that you may escape.

What happens if you resist arrest?

Even if you don't think that you are guilty of an offence or should be arrested it is wise to submit to the arrest. If you are charged with an offence you will have a chance at court to explain your case. Even if you are innocent, the police may arrest you if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed an offence. It is an offence to resist arrest. If you use violence you may be charged with assaulting police.

Do you have to submit to a search if you are arrested?

Police can search you when you have been arrested and again later at the police station.

What happens under arrest?

The Police must give you a document which outlines your rights.

If the Police want to question you and ask you to take part in a recorded interview you have the right to say no and to contact a lawyer. It is very important to get legal advice as soon as you have been arrested and to not talk to the police until you have received advice from your lawyer. Anything you say in a record of interview could later damage your chances of successfully defending your case.

The Police will give you two hours for a lawyer or other person to arrive at the police station to assist you. Read more about what happens under arrest.

If you have been charged with an offence, or are seeking further information on a Criminal or Traffic legal matter, call North Shore Criminal Law on (02) 9955 2298 or out 24 hour Emergency on 0400 44 64 24. Your first telephone consultation is free.

North Shore Criminal Law has over 20 years experience representing people charged with criminal offences.

We service the North Shore, including North Sydney, Northern Beaches, and across Sydney. We can help you defend criminal charges and represent you in Court.