Arrest of a Family Member: Information For Families and Friends

The information below is for general purposes only. It does not constitute and nor is it a substitute for legal advice.  For further information, or if you have questions about your specific situation, contact us here.

The arrest of a family member is often a stressful experience, especially if it was unexpected.  It can be difficult to obtain information about the arrested person, including if or when they will be released by the police.  The information below explains common police procedures where a person is arrested and taken into custody.

Where will the police take my family member?

After arrest, the person is taken to the police station for processing.  The police should explain the person’s rights on arrest and detention in custody.  By law, the arrested person must provide their full name, address and date of birth to the police.

It is best to assume that everything said to the police will be recorded.

Police will often ask the arrested person whether nor not they wish to participate in a record of interview.

You should always obtain legal advice prior to speaking to the police about any matter.

Can they speak to a lawyer?

Once arrested, the person has the right to contact a lawyer.  They may also contact a family member.  If they are not an Australian citizen, they may also contact the embassy or high commission of their country of citizenship.

If you are unsure if your family member has requested legal advice, you may contact a lawyer on their behalf.  The lawyer can make enquiries with the police and may even attend at the police station where your family member is being held.

Police may also obtain the arrested person’s DNA, photograph and fingerprints.  This information will be retained on the police database.

How long will they be held in the watch-house?

Police may only hold a person in custody without being charged for a certain period of time.  Once that time period is expired, the person must be released unless they are charged with an offence or if police gain special permission to extend the period that a person may be detained without charge.

Many people are released promptly by the police on either a Notice to Appear or watch-house bail.  For serious charges, or where a person is a risk, the police may keep them in custody.  If this occurs,  the next issue is whether they can apply for bail from a court.

Depending on when your family member was arrested and charged, they may spend overnight or even the weekend in custody until the first court appearance.  Family members are generally not able to visit or speak to the arrested person during this time.

What if they have a medical condition?

You should let the lawyer or the police know if you family member has any serious medical condition, including any regular medication.  The arrested person will be able to obtain medical treatment, including medications, whilst in the watch-house.

Bail application

A person who is refused watch-house bail must be brought before a court at the earliest opportunity.

The court will decide whether or not the person should be released on bail.  Most people will apply for bail at this stage.

In deciding to grant bail, the question for the court is whether or not the person charged is at an unacceptable risk of failing to appear or absconding or committing further offences.  This is a question of fact that depends on the unique circumstances of each case.

Bail applications are a specialist area of criminal law.  If you have any questions about obtaining bail for yourself or a family member, get in touch with us for expert and specialist advice.

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