Being arrested is an extraordinarily stressful event, especially if you are not aware that you have committed a crime. For this reason, it is vital for Western Australian citizens to be mindful of their rights and what is inappropriate behaviour, both on your part and the part of the arresting officers.
We will look at some of the questions that may come to mind in a calmer setting and are often forgotten in the heat of the moment. However, you DO have rights, and you must know them.
Do the Police Need a Warrant to Arrest Me?
Some people are surprised to learn that in Western Australia, police do not need a warrant to arrest you under certain circumstances. These include:
- Reasonable suspicion that you committed or are about to commit an “arrestable offence”
- Reasonable suspicion that you will breach the peace
- Reasonable suspicion that you will become violent
- The belief that you committed or will commit a “serious offence”
What is Reasonable Suspicion?
When carrying out an arrest or search, police officers must be able to provide a reason they felt unlawful behaviour occurred or was about to happen. The rationale must be substantial enough to go beyond suspicion. In some cases, this can seem like a broad definition. Often the court will decide if officers had reasonable suspicion to make an arrest.
What is a Serious Offence?
A serious offence is a crime that has one or more of the following factors:
- Crimes against persons, property, or government
- Organised criminal activities
- Significant political or public ramifications
What are My Rights When Arrested?
As someone placed under arrest, you have the right to:
- Be informed that you are being placed under arrest
- Be treated with the minimal use of force that is necessary to take you into custody. If you resist arrest, the use of force may escalate, and you can be charged with obstructing the police
- Humane treatment
- The right to silence except for informing the officers of your name, address and birthdate
- To receive information on your rights once arrested, which include,
• Necessary medical treatment
• Reasonable privacy from the media
• The chance to inform a friend or relative of your location
• Services of an interpreter or qualified translator
Your Rights if Arrested as a Suspect
If you are arrested as the suspect in an investigation, there are other rights you should know. These include:
- Be informed that you are being interviewed as a suspect
- Be informed of what offence you have been arrested for and any other crimes the police suspect you have committed
- A reasonable chance to contact your lawyer
- Wait for an interpreter to assist you during your interview
*Note: The police can refuse to allow you to contact another person. This may happen if there is reasonable suspicion that if you speak with this person
- It could mean you are alerting an accomplice who will get away from the police
- That you are instructing them to destroy or hide evidence
- If police officers believe someone will be put in danger because of your conversation
What if the Police Do Not Abide by These Rules?
Police officers must follow protocol when dealing with every situation each day. If you believe that the officers did not follow the statutes and treat you correctly, you can:
- Request that you receive the correct treatment
- Ask for a specific action to be carried out and why it has not (such as the right to your phone call)
- If your requests are still unmet, ask to speak with the officer in charge and make your requests again
- Should your requests continue to be ignored, ask that the events are included in your custody record (and ask for a copy of the report). Make a note of what happened with as much detail as possible. Later, you can file a complaint to Ombudsman citing the inappropriate police conduct. Belligerent behaviour will make your situation worse.
While it may be extremely difficult, try to stay as calm as possible, whatever charges you are facing. You do not want to give the arresting officers any reason to levy further charges on you. However, you DO have rights, and you must know them.
One of your rights is to contact your legal representative. If you are in a situation where you need legal counsel, reach out to WN Legal as soon as possible. You can rest assured that our team will be there for you through this difficult time.
The material presented here is for informational use only. It does not constitute legally binding advice and should not replace a consultation with a professional legal expert.