Being arrested is an unnerving experience, but you do have legal rights. To ensure that these rights are respected, it is essential that you understand them.
When you are arrested, you will typically be brought to a police station, held in custody, and questioned.
Although no two arrests are ever the same, and there are a combination of scenarios that you could face.
Your rights in custody
Firstly, you must be told why you have been taken into custody. The police will read out a list of your rights.
This includes the right to:
When you are searched, the police must inform you why they are searching you and what items they plan on looking for.
They must also show identification upon request and allow witnesses of the search if requested by yourself or someone else present at the scene.
Your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer while you’re in the cell, but may be held for longer if the items are connected to the investigation. We have covered your rights in this respect in previous articles.
Your rights when questioned
“You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.” This is known as the caution.
As stated above, you have the right to remain silent throughout questioning, but there could be consequences as a result. These could include adverse inferences as if you were to forward an account at a later date, then the Court may be less likely to believe you, had you not provided an account at your first opportunity.
How long can you be held in custody?
You can be held in custody for up to 24 hours before the police must charge you with a crime or release you.
In some cases, you may be detained for longer than 24 hours without charge. This depends on factors, such as if more time is needed for questioning or gathering evidence.
The police can also apply to hold you for up to 36 or 96 hours if you’re suspected of a serious crime. Under the Terrorism Act you can be held without charge for up to 14 days should you be arrested under this Act.
You can be released on police bail if there’s not enough evidence to charge you. You don’t have to pay to be released on police bail, but you may have to return to the station for further questioning when asked.
Have you been accused of committing a crime? We help clients through all stages of the criminal justice process. For advice and representation, get in touch with our expert team today.
Solicitor – Criminal Department
I am also a fully Accredited Police Station Representative, an Accredited Duty Solicitor and a Member of the Criminal Litigation Accreditation Scheme (CLAS).
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