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Few life events are more terrifying that being arrested by the police, especially if you have never been in trouble with the law before. Imagine you are out one night, having fun with your friends when the police raid the club you are in and find you have drugs in your pocket. Suddenly, you are in handcuffs and being taken to the police station to be charged with possession with intent to supply, a serious offence which could see you go to prison. If this imaginary scenario has recently played out for you in real life (albeit with a different offence perhaps) then the actions, you take immediately following your arrest can have a substantial impact on the outcome of your overall case. Understanding the process of arrest and what follows will help you make smart decisions and mitigate the chances of criminal charges being laid against you.

When can the police arrest you?

For an arrest to be valid and not potentially breach Article 5 of the European Convention on

Human Rights (ECHR) there must be:

a) A power of arrest, and

b) The arrest must be carried out lawfully.

The power to make an arrest is derived from section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence

Act (PACE) 1984, which provides:

24 Arrest without warrant: constables

(1)  A constable may arrest without a warrant—

(a)  anyone who is about to commit an offence.

(b)  anyone who is in the act of committing an offence.

(c)  anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to

commit an offence.

(d)  anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be

committing an offence.

If a police officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been

committed, they may also arrest without a warrant anyone whom they have reasonable

grounds to suspect of being guilty of that offence.

In addition, under section 24 (4) of PACE, the police can only arrest someone if they have

reasonable grounds for believing that for any of the reasons mentioned in section 24 (5) it is

necessary to arrest the person in question. The reasons include:

To find out the person’s name and address if this cannot be readily discovered or the arresting officer believes the person has provided a false name and address.

To prevent the person in question—

  • causing physical injury to themselves or any other person.

  • suffering physical injury.

  • causing loss of or damage to property.

  • committing an offence against public decency (subject to certain conditions);


  • causing an unlawful obstruction of the highway.

To protect a child or other vulnerable person from the person in question (for

example, in a domestic abuse incident).

To allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or of the conduct of the

person in question.

To prevent the person disappearing.

One of the first things a Pre-Charge Criminal Law Solicitor will do is challenge the police as

to whether it was necessary to arrest you.

What happens after arrest?

Once they have arrested you, the police must take you to the police station as quickly as

possible and you cannot be held for any longer than necessary. A custody officer will see

you when you arrive at the police station, and they will be responsible for looking after your

welfare whilst you are being held in custody. A custody record will be opened by the custody

officer and then they will read you your rights, including your right to have a Solicitor present.

They will then determine whether there is enough evidence to charge you with the offence

that led to your arrest. If you are charged, you may be released on bail to appear before the

Magistrates' Court or remanded in police custody until you can be brought before the

Magistrates' Court. If the police do not have sufficient evidence to charge you but want to

continue their investigations, you may be released on police bail.

What can a Pre-charge Solicitor do to help if I am arrested?

If you have been arrested, you must contact an experienced Criminal Defence Solicitor as

soon as you reach the police station. Upon arrival, your Solicitor will speak to the custody

officer and review the custody record. They will investigate the reason and circumstances of

your arrest to understand if your arrest was lawful. If you have been detained for six hours or

more, your Solicitor will examine the detention reviews (if available) and challenge the

custody officer as to why you are still being held in custody.

One of the most important roles your Criminal Defence Solicitor will undertake is to advise

and represent you if you are interviewed under caution at the police station. Without sound

legal advice, it is exceptionally easy for a person to unintentionally incriminate themselves.

Remember, there is no such thing as an ‘informal chat’ with the police.

Wrapping up

Having an experienced Criminal Law Solicitor by your side following your arrest is the most

important factor in getting a positive outcome to your case. Without the benefit of their

experience and knowledge of the legal system and police procedures, there is a high chance

that you may be charged and have to go to Court.

If you have been arrested or asked to come to the police station to answer questions,

please email me immediately on

Being arrested following a domestic abuse incident is highly stressful and frightening. To ensure your interests are protected and you have the best chance of being released without charge, or have any charges laid dropped before your Court appearance, it is essential to instruct an experienced Criminal Defence Solicitor to advise and represent you and deal with the police on your behalf. Before we discuss what happens upon arrest, it is important to point out the statutory definition of domestic abuse.

What is domestic abuse? The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 (the Act) provides a statutory definition of domestic abuse: "Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse:

  • psychological

  • physical

  • sexual

  • financial

  • emotional

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance, and escape, and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim."

What happens if I am arrested for a domestic abuse incident? If you are arrested following a domestic incident such as having an intense verbal or physical fight with your partner, the police officer attending the scene will tell you that you are being arrested and the reasons for your arrest. For an arrest to be valid, two factors must be present at the time of the arrest:

  • There must be a power of arrest, and

  • The arrest must have been made in a lawful manner.

You cannot be arrested for no reason. The police officer/s attending the scene must suspect you of committing a crime or have grounds for believing that you will commit a crime if they do not remove you from the vicinity. One of the first things a Domestic Violence Defence Solicitor will do is examine the circumstances of your arrest and establish whether the arrest was lawful.

Once at the police station, you will be handed over to the custody officer, who will decide whether the police can detain you. If your detention is approved, you will be searched, your possessions will be kept by the police, and your photograph and fingerprints will be taken.

Do I have the right to call a Solicitor? Absolutely. The police must inform you of your right to contact a Solicitor as soon as practicable after you reach the police station.

You also have the right to use the toilet, receive food and drink, and get medical help if you feel unwell as well as receive any necessary medication.

What is a caution plus three interview? Also known as an interview under caution, a caution plus three interview is where the police will ask you questions about your involvement in the domestic abuse incident. Before the interview starts, they need to give you the following caution: ‘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’. The interview will be recorded. What you say in the police interview is likely to have a significant impact on the outcome of your arrest. You are entitled to free legal advice via the Duty Solicitor. However, it is always best to contact an experienced Criminal Defence Solicitor because, as with everything, you get what you pay for. By instructing a Solicitor, you can choose who represents you and can be confident in their expertise and experience. How long can I be held at the police station? The police can hold you for up to 24 hours before they must charge you with a crime or release you. They can apply to hold you for up to 36 or 96 hours if they need more time to investigate the domestic abuse incident. After being held for the requisite amount of time, the police must either charge you with a crime or let you go. If they need to further investigate the domestic abuse incident, they may release you on pre-charge bail which is likely to have conditions attached. How can a Solicitor help me if I am arrested for domestic abuse? An experienced Criminal Law Solicitor can provide the following assistance if you have been arrested in relation to a domestic abuse incident:

  • Provide legal advice about your rights and how you should answer police questions. This advice is crucial in ensuring you do not inadvertently incriminate yourself.

  • Understand the legal processes involved in your arrest and what you can expect next. They can explain complex legal jargon and make sure you are aware of the proceedings.

  • Be present during the caution plus three interview, ensuring that all questions are fair and within legal guidelines.

  • Review the charge sheet and any evidence the police have against you, offering insight into the strength of the case and possible defences.

  • Communicate with the custody officer and investigating officer on your behalf, ensuring that the correct processes are being followed and your rights are respected.

  • Negotiate pre-charge bail, focusing on whether it is necessary and proportionate and any bail conditions the police plan to attach.

  • Explain the charges (if laid), potential penalties, and next steps.

  • Help prepare your defence, gather evidence, find witnesses, and represent you in court (should the case reach this stage)

Concluding comments Having an experienced Criminal Law Solicitor by your side following an arrest for domestic abuse is the most important factor in getting a positive outcome to your case. With the benefit of their experience and knowledge of the legal system and police procedures, you can trust that your best interests will be protected and everything possible is being done to avert criminal charges, prosecution, and conviction. If you have been arrested following a domestic abuse incident, please email me immediately on

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