We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: being arrested is hugely stressful. At Gallant Law we firmly believe that everyone who comes into contact with the legal system should be treated fairly, lawfully and with respect. If you do get arrested, it’s vitally important that you know your rights and how to best respond.
We’ve written about what steps you should take if you get arrested (see our article What should you do when you get arrested), but it’s equally important to know what you shouldn’t do in this case. Here are the top 5 things people do wrong when they get arrested and why they’re problematic.
- Resisting the police/mouthing off at the police
An arrest is simply an arrest – it does not automatically mean you’re guilty. So, go with the police if you are arrested. Do not resist police arrest, as this can create a separate offence. Also note that swatting a police officer’s hands away or pushing an officer away may constitute assaulting an officer.
Mouthing off at the police is also something to avoid. You might feel like doing so, especially if you’ve been wrongfully arrested, but the police have a lot of discretion over which charges they can bring against you and mouthing off may result in you worsening your charge. Stay calm, respectful and mindful.
- Trying to prove your innocence
It’s tempting to recount your version of events as soon as you’ve been arrested and stress your innocence to a police officer. The common misconception is that if you don’t, the police will assume you have something to hide.
In fact, the opposite is true. If you’ve been arrested, you have the right to remain silent and do not have to answer any police questions apart from identifying yourself (name, date of birth and address. If you refrain from identifying yourself, or provide false information in this respect, you may be fined up to $500).
Stressing your innocence to the police officer only opens up a dialogue between you and the police, and the police will be looking for you to agree with their version of events. Don’t believe what the police tell you to get you talking. Phrases such as ‘if you answer this question you can go home’ are the police encouraging you to talk to prove their version of events. As soon as you start talking, everything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
We strongly encourage you to exercise your right to silence upon arrest and do not answer any police questions until you have spoken to a lawyer. Gallant Law is always on hand to help and provide tailored advice. We can be contacted on 03/9070 9885 or on our after-hours number 0412 513 915.
Remember that if you choose to remain silent the police cannot use your silence to infer your guilt.
- Running from police
If you’ve been arrested, do not run from the police. Not only are the chances of you outrunning the police quite slim, but the police are authorised to use reasonable force to arrest you. Once you start running, the police are much more likely to exercise that force to arrest you – and your charge may worsen for running.
- Not asking the police officer’s for their name, rank and station
This is particularly important if you’ve been wrongfully arrested, or if the police have demonstrated misconduct throughout your arrest. Once you’ve identified yourself, the police officer must do the same. This information is necessary should you need to lodge a complaint for police misconduct later. A police officer can be fined up to $500 for failing to identify him or herself when asked.
- Not speaking to a lawyer FIRST
Once you’ve been arrested, the police must take you to the station and interview you.
But – first, you’re entitled to make two phone calls, to a family member or friend and to a lawyer. It’s vital that you seek legal advice tailored to your situation before answering police interview questions.
Scarily, accused people can end up self-incriminating or confessing to crimes they didn’t commit in these interviews without realising it. With your liberty at stake, it’s particularly important you contact a lawyer before answering police questions. It doesn’t matter if you do not already have a lawyer – upon arrest, you may get a lawyer.
As defence lawyers, we’ve seen first-hand how terrifying being arrested can be. If you find yourself in this situation contact Gallant Law on 03/9070 9885 or on our after-hours line 0412 513 915 so we can offer tailored advice, guidance and support.