Being arrested can be very upsetting for you and those close to you. However, you do not have to face the experience alone and we are ready to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week regardless of the alleged offence with advice, assistance and support to help you while you are in the police station. Please check out our jargon free guides below to help you understand the rights you have on arrest and the procedures that the police should follow.
What happens if you are arrested unfairly or injured during arrest?
Police officers have to go through the correct procedures during any arrest and interrogation, and if you are mistreated in any way by the criminal justice system then you can bring civil actions against the police. See our guide to Actions against the Police (link) for more information.
Criminal Courts and Sentences
All criminal cases begin in a Magistrates’ Court. A bench of two or three magistrates, or a district judge hears the cases and there is no jury. This court deals with minor offences such as most motoring offences as well as medium level offences such as some burglaries. The Magistrates’ court can give sentences including:
- Prison sentences of up to 6 months;
- Fines of up to £5,000;
- Community sentences which can include requirements such as wearing an electronic tag or doing unpaid work.
The Crown Court deals with serious criminal offences and has a jury consisting of 12 members of the public who collectively decide whether you are guilty or not. The judge in the case will then decide on your sentence which can either be a:
- Community sentence which can include requirements such as wearing an electronic tag or doing unpaid work; or
- A prison sentence, which will vary in length depending on the offence you are convicted of and the circumstances surrounding it.
If the police do not release you after being charged then you must be brought before a Magistrate to decide whether you will be granted bail.
The general rule is that a person charged with an offence should be released on bail until their trial. However, bail might be refused if there is reason to believe that you:
- May interfere with the witnesses or evidence;
- Would not attend court for their trial;
- Would commit further offences while on bail; or
- Should be kept in custody for their own protection.
DPP Law can fight against these beliefs on your behalf so as to give you the best chance of getting bail before your court appearance.
Bail conditions such as a curfew or having to attend a police station on a weekly basis may be applied by the court in an effort to assure them that you will comply with the bail and attend your trial.
Being charged with a crime
To be charged with a crime the Crown Prosecution Service or appropriate officer must assess the strength of the evidence against you and whether it is in the public interest to prosecute you.
Please remember that being charged with a crime is not the end of the process and that we are here to defend your case and represent your interests every step of the way.
After being charged you will be given a charge sheet that will detail when and where you are due to appear in court.
A caution can be offered by the police for minor offences that you admit to committing. A caution is not the same as a criminal conviction but it may be used as evidence of bad character if you go to court for another crime in the future.
A conditional caution is the same as a caution but it has certain rules such as going for treatment for drug addiction or fixing damage to property. If you do not stick to these conditions you may be charged with a crime.
You should not be interviewed before you have arrived at the police station and been offered access to a solicitor who can provide you legal advice. We strongly recommend that you have a solicitor present to protect your legal case.
Further, you should not be interviewed at a time when you will struggle to understand what is happening. Examples of this are if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or are suffering from any mental or physical condition that would make it hard to understand the seriousness of the occasion.
All interviews should be recorded on tape. They will begin with simple questions such as your name and address. Then the interview will move on to more serious matters and anything that you have allegedly said or done in the presence of the police before the interview should be put to you so that you can confirm or deny its truth for the record.
Right to a solicitor
Once you arrive at the police station you have the right to privately talk to and get advice from a solicitor at any time. Any interview by the police should not take place until a solicitor is present to guide you through the process and make sure that your case is represented in the best possible way.
You have the choice to decline to have a solicitor but it is highly recommend that you gain legal advice so as to best protect yourself and your case.
Our solicitors are on hand to help 24 hours a day and can be contacted on 0800 027 78 70.
The procedure of arrest
The police must inform you as soon as practicable after your arrest that you are under arrest and the reason for your arrest. The police may physically seize a suspect but they can only use reasonable force against any suspect.
The police must then caution you. A caution explains that you have the right to remain silent but you should be made aware that the court may take your silence into account when deciding whether you are guilty of the alleged offence or not.
After this the police should take you to a police station as soon as possible and, normally, the police must not interview you until they have brought you to the police station.
The power to arrest
A police officer can make an arrest with or without a warrant.
A warrant is issued by a court and mandates that the police officer can arrest a specific suspect regardless of what they are doing at the time of the arrest.
If a police officer does not have a warrant then they can only arrest you if:
- You are committing or are about to commit an offence;
- The police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that you are committing or are about to commit an offence;
- The police office has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have already committed an offence.
How can we help?
Being arrested can be very upsetting for you and those close to you. However, you do not have to face the experience alone and we are ready to help 24 hours a day, seven days a week regardless of the alleged offence with advice, assistance and support to help you while you are in the police station.
Please check out our jargon free guides below to help you understand the rights you have on arrest and the procedures that the police should follow.