Being Arrested

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The police can arrest you if they believe you have broken a law.

Police cannot arrest you “for questioning”. You DO NOT have to accompany the police to the police station UNLESS you are under arrest or if you have been found drink-driving and police require you to accompany them to a police station for a breath test analysis.

However, it is an offence to actively resist or hinder a legal arrest (yours or another’s). It is not necessarily an offence to refuse to co-operate, for instance by lying down. You don’t have to help police arrest you, but they may then use “reasonable force” to take you into custody.

The Victorian Police Manual states that: “Passive resistance – means a non-violent refusal to cooperate, including a refusal to comply with directions. This does not include the linking of arms nor the holding onto of structures.”(VPM Instruction 107-1 Crowd control 3/11/03)

It is also not an offence to run away before an arrest takes place; however, running away may be later represented in court as some evidence of your “consciousness of guilt”.

If the police take you into custody (including placing you in a divisional van), you should ask “Am I under arrest?” and “What am I under arrest for?”. You should not participate in any further conversations with police (except to provide your name and address) until you have spoken to a lawyer.

You should immediately demand to speak to your lawyer. If you are participating in a demonstration, it is best to always carry the phone number of a couple of lawyers, or legal centres, with you. If police refuse you access to a lawyer just say you have no comment to make.

If you are a Koori you should tell the police immediately. The police must then notify the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and any local Aboriginal Justice Panel.

If you are not an Australian citizen, you should tell the police immediately. You must be allowed to contact your consulate.

Contacting witnesses to an arrest is vital – statements should be taken from them in case the police version of how the arrest took place is to be challenged. In particular, try to remember the identity of the arresting police officer. It sometimes happens in demonstration cases that different police turn up in court claiming to be the arresting officer. If such substitution is exposed, the police evidence will be disregarded.