If the police suspect that you have committed an offence, you may be arrested. In such situations, you may be kept for a maximum of 24 hours without special permission from a prosecutor. After this time has passed, you must be released or you may be detained for another 72 hours by a prosecutor.
If you already have the official status of an accused in a criminal offense, you may also be arrested. This can happen if the authorities have a reason to ask the judge to detain you on remand. The arrest may be only for the purposes of bringing you to a court if you don’t show up when you are summoned.
Arrest deprives people of their liberty and may cause them to feel particularly helpless and vulnerable. Therefore, the police should not arrest people frivolously and without a lawful reason.
About this Guide
This Guide will explain situations in which you may be arrested and how, the basic rights you have when arrested, where you will stay and how you must be treated, and what should happen regarding your release. It will also explain how you can complain about issues related to your arrest. However, not every restriction of your physical liberty will be considered to be an arrest. Read more below.
It is important to note that not every restriction of your physical liberty will be considered an arrest. For example, you are not considered to have been arrested or detained every time you are in a police office. Sometimes you may be invited to help in an investigation and to answer questions, but you can freely leave when you have complied with your lawful duties to cooperate in criminal process.
Each situation can be very different and therefore, human rights give you some criteria for how to assess whether you really are under arrest. These are: the manner in which you are arrested, the place where you are held, and how long you are held. For example, if you were brought in forcefully, put in a restricted or even isolated area which you can’t leave and which is heavily supervised by the police, it will most likely be considered to be an arrest. The arrest may also result from a situation where you came to the police station freely and voluntarily. Therefore, it is always important to ask whether you can freely leave.
Treatment & Conditions
Investigation during arrest
Appearance before a judge
How to complain
Article 5 (1) c)
6 November 1980
23 February 2012
17 January 2012
9 December 1988