Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Sunday, 24 September 2023 18:07

Help! A Family Member Has Been Arrested: What Can I Do?

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Help A Family Member Has Been Arrested What Can I Do

It can be quite the shock when a family member or partner is suddenly arrested. There will be stress, confusion and a desire to try and help.

This article is for family members or partners of some one who has been arrested.

The arrest process

The police are not required to give someone notice that they intend to come and arrest them. The police might very well turn up later in the day or on the weekend.

In general the police will make a formal arrest, detain the accused and take them for questioning.

At this stage you should:

  • If present then get details of the officers and where they are being taken

  • Note down any relevant things the police may have said

  • Don’t contact any witnesses

  • Don’t try and explain anything about the alleged offence to the police

It is absolutely critical for ever Queenslander who is taken in for question to remember that apart from the questions below no one should give an statement or information to a police officer without legal advice. Helping the police at this point will at the best not affect the case against someone but at worse will see them convicted based on what they say.

It’s worth repeating DO NOT TALK TO POLICE without legal advice.

We have a couple of articles that goes more in depth on this issue.

The only questions you need to answer are:

  • your name and address
  • date and place of your birth 

Where have they been taken?

The accused will be taken to a local watchhouse. The locations of local watch houses overlap and some close on the weekends so the accused may be taken to a larger watch house further away.

This is why it’s a good idea to ask police which watch house they are taking the family member to.

Can I attend the police interview?

The accused has the right to request a support person and have that support person attend a police interview.

The accused also has the right to speak to a lawyer.

You would have seen earlier however we strongly advice no one to talk to police at all and certainly not until they have legal advice. If a family member asks you to attend a formal interview you should;

  • Attend the interview

  • Ask the police to explain the right to silence to the family member

  • Tell the family member they should not answer any police questions until they speak to a lawyer

  • Not answer questions for the family member in the police interview or give information or your opinion on any allegations the police pout to the family member during a police interview.

Again It’s worth repeating DO NOT TALK TO POLICE without legal advice.

Can I talk to them in custody?

The police don’t need to allow the family member to call you however most the watch house staff are generally pretty good at allowing at least one call to family.

How long can the police hold them?

The police can detain someone for 8 hours and during that time question them for up to 4 hours. The police would then need to make a decision as to whether they will grant police bail. See below about bail.

What can I do to help?

The most important thing anyone can do to help a husband, wife, son, brother or another family member facing questioning by police or who has already been arrested is get them a lawyer and do it urgently.

Time matters in these situations. A lawyer can quickly contact the police officers and ask to speak to the family member and can give them legal advice.

Remember the family member can say things to police, even innocently, that will mean they will be found guilty of an offence. We see it every single week. Someone has been arrested, they think they can talk the police and prove they are innocent, they say something that leads to;

  1. Admitting all or part of the legal requirements for an offence conviction

  2. Preventing their lawyer from being able to negotiate with the prosecutor to withdraw or reduce a charge

  3. Preventing a valid defence being used at trial

Everyday people in Queensland talk to police and as a result of talking to police are found guilty of an offence. Many, if they had just invoked their right to silence, would never have had charged bought against them or if they had they would have been found not guilty.

Again It’s worth repeating for the third time DO NOT TALK TO POLICE without legal advice.

Will they get bail?

Bail under Queensland law in its simplest form is a promise by the defendant to go to the court on another date. If bail is granted they are released from custody and don’t have to remain in custody while there matter goes through the court.
If the family member is arrested then the police must make a decision as to whether they will be granted bail or not. If they are granted bail they can leave the watch house. If they are not granted bail then they must be bought before Magistrate as soon as possible. This would generally be the next morning (or if it’s the weekend then by Monday morning).

If a Magistrate is to make a decision on whether to grant bail the presumption is they should get bail (except for certain serious offences). However the Magistrate will refuse bail if there is an unacceptable risk that the defendant, if released on bail—

  • would fail to appear and surrender into custody; or
  • would, while released on bail—

o   commit an offence; or

o   endanger the safety or welfare of a person who is claimed to be a victim of the offence with which the defendant is charged or anyone else’s safety or welfare; or

o   interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice, whether for the defendant or anyone else; or

o   that the defendant should remain in custody for the defendant’s own protection.

In deciding whether there is an unacceptable risk as stated above, the Magistrate must have regard to matters including:

  • the nature and seriousness of the offence;

  • the character, antecedents, associations, home environment, employment and background of the defendant;

  • the history of any previous grants of bail to the defendant;

  • the strength of the evidence against the defendant;

  • if the defendant is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person—any submissions made by a representative of the community justice group in the defendant’s community;

  • if the defendant is charged with a domestic violence offenceor an offence against the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012section 177 (2)— the risk of further domestic violence or associated domestic violence being committed by the defendant. Bail for Domestic Violence offences are what is known as show cause bail applications.

You can learn more about bail by clicking on our bail article.

If the family member doesn’t have a private lawyer then the duty lawyer will visit them in the watch house. However the duty lawyer is very busy so will only have a few minutes to talk.

If they don’t get bail what happens?

If bail is not granted then the family member will remain in custody until the charges are finalised or if bail is granted by a judge of the Supreme Court.

They will be moved as soon as possible to a prison or remand centre. This can take several days. You can find out when they arrive at the prison by:

  • using the search for prisoners form
  • emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Once they are in prison you can arrange to visit and the family member can also call you.

The first court appearance

After the Court refuses bail they will set a date for the next court appearance. This could be in several weeks time.

You will be able to attend the court on that date (unless the Magistrate closes the court ). The family member will likely appear by video link not in person.

I’m really stressed

Thats really understandable. We also suggest family members see their doctor to get help with coping with a family member in prison.

Don’t try and take all the problems on your own shoulders.

How can I help my family member cope with the charges?

What you need to understand for a prisoner life slows down. They have all day to think about their situation and this can cause them quite a lot of stress.

You will need to remember they will be stressed when they ring you and other family members. Try and keep their hopes up but don’t give them false hope.

Their lawyer will be able to answer any legal questions so try and just concentrate on other things.          

What difference will a lawyer make?

It will make all the difference. Having lawyer will best protect their rights, increase their chances of bail and either defend them at trial or reduce their sentence if they plead guilty.

A summary of what a lawyer can do for your family member is:

  • Protect their rights

  • Look for possible defences

  • Get bail

  • Explain the process to the family

  • Update the family on what is occurring

  • Get an enduring power of attorney signed so the family can take pay the family members bills like rent, phone bills and keep their “outside life going”

  • Reduce the sentence

Why should I engage Clarity Law?

Quite frankly we care about getting the right outcome for our clients and helping them through one of the most difficult times in their lives.

In the face of a criminal law charge, selecting the right legal representation is paramount, and Clarity Law offers a unique blend of proficiency and empathy that sets us apart. Our firm is dedicated to providing clarity in the often complex world of criminal law. We believe that every client deserves a clear understanding of their rights and the legal process they're navigating.

Our experienced team of lawyers approaches each case with a commitment to open communication, ensuring you're informed every step of the way. With a proven track record of securing favourable outcomes, we have the expertise to navigate even the most intricate legal challenges.

At Clarity Law, we strive not only to be your staunch advocates but also to provide a supportive, understanding environment during this trying time. Choosing Clarity Law means choosing a team that will tirelessly work to protect your rights and pursue the best possible outcome for your case.

You can read more about our founder, Steven Brough’s, journey to starting Clarity Law by clicking here.

How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you

  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

  3. Click here to select a time for us to have a free 15 minute telephone conference with you

  4. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  5. Send us a message on Facebook Messenger

  6. Click the help button at the bottom right and leave us a message

We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide free initial information to assist you. If you want to engage us then great, we will give you a fixed price for our services so you will know with certainty what we will cost. All the money goes into a trust account monitored by the Queensland Law Society and cannot be taken out without your permission.

If you don’t engage us that fine too, at least you will have more information on the charge and its consequences.

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Steven Brough

Steven Brough is a criminal defence lawyer and founder of Clarity Law with over 22 years experience he has appeared in almost every court in Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences and getting them the best outcome possible.