Arrest and court
Arrest and your rights
The police may arrest you if they:
- believe that you have broken the law
- have a warrant (court document) for your arrest
- believe you are mentally ill and might harm yourself or someone else.
If an incident has occurred and the police ask for your name and address, you must give them this information. It's an offence to give a false name or address.
If you're not under arrest, you don't have to go to the police station, even if you're asked to.
If you are arrested
When you've been arrested, you'll be taken to a police station where you should be advised of your rights.
- You'll be told why you have been arrested and the nature of the allegations.
- You can make one telephone call (in the presence of a police officer) to a relative or friend to inform them of your whereabouts.
- You're entitled to have a solicitor, relative or friend present during any questioning or investigation while in custody.
- You're entitled to an interpreter if you need one.
- You're entitled to receive medical treatment if you need it.
Young people under 18
- You're entitled to certain protections, such as having an adult present if you're questioned.
- The police must try to contact your parent, guardian or carer if you're under 18 and have been arrested.
- You can't be subjected to an interrogation or investigation until an 'appropriate adult' is present to represent your interests - this can be your parent or guardian, another family member, social worker, or friend aged 18 or over.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
If you identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI), you should be provided with a copy of printed information from the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (ALRM). The police will notify the ALRM that you have been arrested. An Aboriginal field officer can help you to:
- initiate arrangements for bail or legal assistance and notify friends or relatives
- arrange for an interpreter to be present during an investigation or court proceedings.
Help with interviews
People with complex communication needs can ask for help if they are being interviewed about a serious legal matter or crime.
Help may be available when people are suspected of committing a serious crime and are to be interviewed by police.
Type of help that is available
The type of help you can access includes:
- devices to help communicate such as a speak-and-spell device
- an appropriate person approved by the person interviewing you or the court
- a 'communication partner' - a qualified communication specialist who will provide advice about how you can be supported.
How to get help
You can ask for this type of help through:
- your lawyer
- a police officer
- the person interviewing you
- the prosecutor
- the court.
Find a communication partner
- Speech Pathology Australia
- Occupational Therapy Australia
- Australian Psychological Society
- Developmental Educators Australia Inc
- Australian Association of Social Workers
Bail is an agreement made between an arrested person and the Crown which sets out the conditions of release from custody before their matter is heard in court.
If you've been arrested, you have the right to apply for bail and this may or may not be granted. If bail is rejected, you'll be given a form with the reasons why bail is refused. If you're under 18 years of age, you can request a review of the bail refusal and the matter heard at a youth court as soon as possible. For adults, the review of the bail refusal will be heard in court no later than 4.00 pm the following day.
Going to court
See the Courts Administration Authority for information about:
If the court rules that you're guilty of a crime, the conviction will probably appear on your National Police Certificate (NPC), which is often referred to as a 'police check'.
Not all convictions stay on your record forever. It's possible to have some removed, or ‘spent’. There are a few different ways this can happen, so it's important to seek legal advice about your specific circumstances.
A spent conviction will not appear on your police records check and doesn't have to be disclosed when you're asked about your criminal history.
There's a special process for applying to spend offences for conduct that's no longer a crime – eg homosexual activity. A separate process is used because homosexual activity should never have been a crime, and so removing the convictions needs to be assessed differently.
Complete a Magistrates Court Criminal Form 110 to apply to spend a conviction for homosexual conduct.