criminal justice system nsw arrests

Navigating the Criminal Justice System in NSW: Arrests

The criminal justice system is a complex and intricate network designed to maintain law and order within our society. Therefore, understanding the criminal justice process is crucial for individuals who may find themselves involved in legal matters.

In this article, we will also explore the various stages of the criminal justice system in NSW with an emphasis on arrests

Arrests and Rights in NSW

The first step in the criminal justice process is often an arrest. This happens after someone commits a crime. Police can take individuals into custody if they have reasonable grounds to suspect their involvement in criminal activities. 

While private citizens can make arrests, it is predominantly law enforcement that wield the power.

Key Elements of Lawful Arrests in NSW:

A lawful arrest in NSW involves three fundamental elements. For example: 

  • Notification: Individuals must be informed of the arrest.
  • Explanation: Police must tell them the reason for the arrest unless it is inherently clear.
  • Restriction: Words or actions must be present to convey to the individual that they are not free to leave.

Grounds for Arrests in NSW:

The Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (LEPRA) gives police the authority to arrest individuals in NSW. Basically, police officers can make an arrest without a warrant if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been or is being committed. Additionally, if the arrest will:

  • Prevent further offences, 
  • Apprehend a suspect, 
  • Ensure court appearance, 
  • Preserve/obtain evidence, 
  • Safeguard a person’s welfare, or 

Furthermore, police can also arrest individuals for breaching bail conditions, a failed roadside breath tests, or breaching the peace.

Search and detention in arrests:

Police must also search an arrested person with the least invasive methods, preserving their dignity. Furthermore, detention can last for a six-hour investigative period. And a court warrant can extend it for an additional six hours.  

Arrest Procedures:

Police officers must also provide the arrested person with the following information, including: 

  • Confirmation of Police Status: Evidence of being a police officer, often satisfied by being in uniform.
  • Identification: The police officer’s name and place of duty.
  • Reason for Arrest: The grounds for the arrest.

Use of Force:

Police can use reasonable force during an arrest. However, the definition of reasonable force is dependent on the specific circumstances of that particular case. Unreasonable force may lead to the police being charged with assault charges. Therefore, emphasising the importance of cooperation, even for those who believe they are innocent. 

Our firm has made more successful claims against the state for unlawful conduct than any other firm in the country. 

Post-Arrest Rights in NSW:

After the arrest, police usually take individuals to a police station. Here, officers must inform them of their rights. For example, their rights include; 

  • The Right to Silence: Except in specific circumstances, individuals have the right not to say anything.
  • Right to Legal Representation: The right to contact and have a lawyer present during investigations.
  • Right to Contacts: The ability to contact a friend or relative, and to have an interpreter and medical attention if necessary.

Changes to the Right to Silence:

Recent amendments to the Evidence Act 1995 modify the right to silence for serious indictable offences. Now, courts can draw an unfavourable inference if an arrested person refuses to answer questions. Additionally, if they fail to mention a fact later used in their defence. 

Importance of Legal Representation:

Once arrested, individuals also have the right to legal representation.

Seeking legal representation quickly post-arrest is crucial. For example, lawyers guide their clients through the legal process, advising on responses, applying for bail, and representing them in court. 

Furthermore, securing legal advice early in the process to build a robust defence strategy is vital. Our criminal lawyers offer sound legal advice. Our firm has lots of experience winning criminal cases.

Bail Applications in NSW

When arrested, there is the possibility of bail. Bail allows individuals to get out of custody under certain conditions while they await trial. Our criminal solicitors can shed some light on the bail application process and factors considered by the court. We can also help you file a bail application. 

Read the entire bail application procedure

Court Proceedings in NSW 

The court plays a central role in the criminal justice system, determining the guilt or innocence of the accused. 

Find out more on the court proceedings here. 

Navigating the criminal justice system in New South Wales can be challenging. However, obtaining information is the first step towards a fair and just resolution.

I need a criminal lawyer 

If you need help with a criminal matter, get in contact with us today. Been charged with criminal charges? Contact O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors at (02) 9261 4281 or email

+ posts

Nicole Byrne

Content Creator | Media Coordinator
O'Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors


O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
p: 02 9261 4281
a: Level 4, 219-223 Castlereagh St,
Sydney NSW 2000

Scroll to Top