Arrest And Charge, Summons, Warrants

Arrest And Charge, Summons, Warrants


  • Police have no right to detain a person unless the arrest is lawful.
  • There are certain conditions for an arrest to be legal:
    • At the time of the arrest, the person must know why they are being arrested, and that they cannot resist à minimum amount of force must be used.
    • Police must issue a caution that the person will be asked questions they may refuse to answer and that their answers will be recorded, which has to be understood by the arrested individual.


  • Police have discretion whether to charge a suspect or let them go with a warning.
  • Decision may be influenced by many factors e.g. the offender’s race, family background or address.


  • In the case of minor matters or summary offences, summons are handed out.
  • These may replace arrest.
  • It is a legal document which requires a person to attend court, it contains:
    • The details of the charge
    • Outlines when and where the charge will be heard
    • Outlines consequences of failing to attend
    • The word alleged means that the person is only suspected of having committed the crime: it has not yet been proved that the person has committed the offence
    • Information and Summons – Official legal document which commands the person to whom is is addressed to appear at a particular court on a particular day
    • Information and Warrant – Written authorisation issued by a judge or magistrate which gives the police power to arrest the person named on it
    • Arrest without Warrant – Police may arrest anyone they reasonably suspect of having committed a crime, or being about to commit a crime. Officers, on arrest, must:
      • – Tell the person why he/she is under arrest
      • – Tell the person why he/she is being arrested
      • – Touch the person being arrested
    • Police can choose whether to arrest someone for a crime or not. In the case of minor offences, police have the discretion to give a warning or to arrest the offender.


Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.