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Your rights after being arrested

When you’re arrested, you have the right to get legal help before you say or do anything. You don’t have to make a statement, but you do have to tell the police some basic information about yourself.

Your rights when you’re arrested

You have the right to:

  • talk to a lawyer privately, without having to wait to see them
  • not make a statement
  • be told why you are being questioned, detained, or arrested
  • be treated humanely
  • be brought before a court or tribunal as soon as possible.

If you’re under 17, the police should tell your parents or guardians that you’ve been arrested.

What you have to do

If you’ve been arrested, you have to tell the police your:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • address
  • occupation.

If you’re driving, you also have to tell the police who owns the vehicle and your telephone number.

You must let the police take:

  • your fingerprints
  • your photo
  • blood samples or samples from your mouth.

What happens next

After you’re arrested, you could be:

  • warned and released
  • summonsed to appear in court on a future date
  • released on bail to appear in court
  • held in custody to appear in court.

Appearing in court

Accessing free legal help

You can get free legal help if you’ve been arrested or held for questioning.

The Police have a roster of criminal lawyers who you can choose from — they’re called Police Detention Legal Assistance (PDLA) lawyers.

You can talk to a free lawyer at any time of the day or night when:

  • you’ve been arrested
  • you’re being held (detained) without being arrested, for example if you’re being searched for illegal drugs or weapons
  • the police are questioning you about an offence they suspect you’ve committed and they’ve told you that you have the right to talk to a lawyer.

How to complain about the police

If you think the police have used unreasonable force, or have arrested you unlawfully, you can complain to the Independent Police Complaints Authority.

Complaints about the police

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