Whether it happens to you, your partner, a family member or friend, arrest is scary. It’s vitally important that you know what to do, and, more importantly, what not to do when you have been arrested.

After you are arrested there are seven things you must never do. We call them the seven sins of arrest and they are:

  1. Never get in an argument with police.
  2. Never insult a police officer.
  3. Always put your hands where the police see them.
  4. Never try to run away.
  5. Never touch a police officer.
  6. Never resist an arrest in any way.
  7. Never forget that whatever you say to the police can (and probably will) be used against you.

What to do after arrest:

Ask for a lawyer immediately. It is not a good idea to handle this on your own.

At the police station:

Once you’re in the police station, keep quiet. Don’t say anything. It’s your Constitutional right.

Phone a friend:

After arrest, you have the right to make one local phone call. It’s usually best to phone a friend who can instruct a legal representative to help with a bail application.

Your rights:The South African Constitution states in section 35(1) that anyone who is arrested for allegedly committing an offence has the right:

  1. To remain silent.
  2. To be informed promptly of the right to remain silent, and of the consequences of not remaining silent.
  3. Not to be compelled to make any confession or admission that could be used in evidence against himself or herself.
  4. To be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than 48 hours after the arrest.
  5. To be charged, or to be informed of the reasons for the detention to continue, or to be released.
  6. To be released from detention if the interest of justice permits it subject to reasonable conditions.

Important knowledge:

The Criminal Procedure Act states that an arrest should be, as far as possible, only made after an arrest warrant for the arrest has been obtained. It’s only in exceptional circumstances that private individuals or even police can arrest someone without the authority of a warrant.

If the police officer says that they have a warrant for your arrest, ask to see it. They may only arrest you on a warrant if they have the original warrant with them. It is unlawful for police to proceed with an arrest using a copy or faxed version.