What happens if you get arrested?

If you find yourself under arrest, there are rights you should know:

  • You do not have to answer any questions except for providing your name and address and age if you are under 18.
  • You do not need to make a statement or agree to an interview.
  • If you are going to be strip-searched, and you are female, you can request a female officer perform the search or at least be present for it.  If you are male, you can request a male to perform the search.
  • You may be allowed one phone call to contact a family member or friend to tell them where you are (but this is not the case if you are in the ACT).
  • You can request a lawyer if you are being questioned.  Legal Aid provide duty lawyers who can give you initial advice (check below for the link to Legal Aid in your region), or you can call your own private lawyer.

If you are charged you may be bailed (released), with or without conditions, to appear in court on a certain day. If you do not attend at that appointed time then a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

If you are charged with a serious crime you may only be granted bail on the condition that someone is willing to provide a surety for you. A surety means someone (over the age of 18) agreeing to pay the court an amount of money if you do not attend court when you are supposed to.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

For assistance in Northern Territory contact Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission on 1800 019 343.

If you are Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander you can also contact the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service on 1800 636 079 or the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency on 1800 898 251.


In the ACT, if you are under 18, the police can only strip search you if permission has been given by a Magistrate. There must be a parent, guardian or adult friend with you during the search.

If you are under 18 you cannot be interviewed alone. The police must try to contact a parent, guardian, lawyer or other responsible adult to sit in with you during the interview. If no one is available the police must contact an independent person called an “Interview Friend” to sit with you while you are being interviewed.

For assistance in the ACT, contact Legal Aid ACT on 1300 654 314.  If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you can contact the Aboriginal Legal Service.

Western Australia

For assistance in Western Australia, contact Legal Aid Western Australia on 1300 650 579.


For assistance in New South Wales, contact Legal Aid New South Wales on 1300 888 529 or the South West Sydney Legal Centre advice line on 02 9601 7777.

If you are Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander you can also contact the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) on 02 8303 6600.


If you need legal advice or referrals in Victoria you can contact the following:

South Australia

For assistance in South Australia, contact Legal Services Commission of South Australia on 1300 366 424.


For assistance in Tasmania, contact Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania on 1300 366 611.


In Queensland, you do not have to answer any questions except for certain basic questions, including giving your name and address, date and place of birth (in drug matters) and broken traffic laws or whether you’ve seen an accident.

For assistance in Queensland, contact Legal Aid Queensland on 1300 651 188.