The WA Police can arrest you with, or without a warrant. Most arrests by the WA Police are made without a warrant.
Arrest with a warrant
A warrant for arrest is an authority from a Magistrate, Justice of the Peace or Judge for the police to arrest a particular person. The warrant must specify the name of the person, and cannot be used for the arrest of anyone else.
An arrest warrant may be issued for a number of reasons, some of which include:
- Failure to appear in Court
- For a criminal offence;
- To ensure the person attends Court as a witness
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and there are other reasons why the Court would grant an arrest warrant.
Arrest without a Warrant
Basic powers of arrest (For citizens and the police)
The police can arrest you if they ‘reasonably suspect’ that you have committed or are committing an ‘arrestable offence.’ They can also arrest you if they reasonably suspect that you will breach of the peace, become violent or in order to prevent the commission of an offence.
Serious Offences (For police)
In addition to these basic powers of arrest, the police also have the power to arrest you if they believe that you have committed or are committing a ‘serious offence’.
Furthermore, they can arrest you if they suspect that:
- You will continue to commit the offence
- You will commit another offence
- You will conceal or disturb something related to the offence
- Yours or other’s safety will be endangered
- You will interfere with witnesses or the course of justice
- You will be a danger to another person or their property.
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and there are other reasons why the police can arrest you. An arrest may be lawful even if it is later found that you did not commit an offence, as long as at the time, the officer who arrested you had a reasonable suspicion that you had committed, were committing, or were about to commit an offence.
What are my rights whilst being arrested?
Prior to, or whilst you are being arrested the Police should:
- Inform you that you are under arrest; or
- Place their hands on you and inform you that you are under arrest; or
- Physically seize you.
However, the police should only use as much force as is reasonably necessary to arrest you. If you interfere with the arrest or try to stop the police, you could be charged with obstructing the police.
As soon as possible after you are arrested, the police should inform you of what your rights are. In every case you have the right to:
- A reasonable amount of privacy from the media;
- Necessary medical treatment;
- A reasonable chance to communicate with a relative/ friend to inform them where you are;
- Assistance from an interpreter or qualified person to be able to understand or communicate well enough.
If you are arrested as a suspect, you have the right to:
- Be given a reasonable chance to contact a lawyer;
- Be informed of what offence you have been arrested for, and any other offences the police suspect you have committed;
- Wait for the interpreter to be available before police interview you (if needed);
- Be informed that you are being interviewed as a suspect.
The police can refuse to let you contact a person if they reasonably suspect the contact will mean an accomplice will get away from Police, evidence will be destroyed or hidden or someone will be put in danger.
In addition, it is police policy that your safety and welfare should be checked regularly once you have been arrested and that you should be treated in a dignified and humane way.
What if the Police do not do these things?
If the Police do not comply with the above protocol initially, you should request that they give you the information, or allow for a certain thing to happen. If the Police refuse, you should ask to speak to the officer in charge at the Police station and reiterate your request to him/her.
If the Police continue to refuse, you may ask that a note of the refusal be made in your custody record and a copy be handed to you. You should make a note of their refusal also, listing as many key details as possible. Later, you will be able to make a complaint to the Ombudsman in relation to the unsatisfactorily conduct of the Police.