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An Arresting Experience

The law relating to the arrest of suspects is complex.

Every arrest must be in accordance with law. Members of the Garda Síochána have extensive powers of arrest, but do not have a right to arrest on a whim, or for a wrongful purpose.

Members of the public have a power of arrest in some circumstances, but this post does not deal with that.

It is a criminal offence to resist a lawful arrest, but not an unlawful arrest. Some unlawful arrests are plainly that; more often than not they are seen to be unlawful with hindsight.

Therefore, as a practical matter, even if a person believes that his/her arrest is unlawful, it is wiser to submit and challenge the arrest and its consequences later. (See Section 18 (6) Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997).

The general purpose of an arrest is to charge the suspect with a crime and bring him/her before the courts.

In Ireland, there are exceptions to this. (Strictly, these exceptions should be thought of as “detention” rather than “arrest”).

Under Section 30 of the Offences against the State Act 1939 (as amended), a Garda may arrest a suspect (whom it is suspected has committed one or more of certain offences) and take him/her to a Garda Station for questioning.

Likewise, under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 and Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996 a Garda may arrest a suspect and take him/her to a Garda station.

These detentions are subject to rules and regulations. Commonly, suspects are released without charge after such detentions; but equally commonly the suspect is charged with an offence and brought before a court.

The charging document may be a charge sheet or it may be a summons. The charge sheet will be delivered to the suspect at the Garda station whereas the summons will be delivered later when it issues from the District court.

A person charged on a charge sheet needs bail; no bail is needed on a summons.

The Gardaí may give bail or the court may determine the bail when the accused appears there.

(This bail will be a personal bail; a promise to pay a sum of money if default in appearance in court occurs, or it may be that AND a similar promise from a third party). The Irish bail system is unlike the system in the USA.

Equally unlike the USA, in Ireland we do not have “the Perp Walk”.

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  1. By Going to the District Court « A Clatter of the Law on Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    […] you are unfortunate enough to be summoned to court (see here for the difference between a summons and a charge sheet), there is a lot of good information […]