Today, I embark on legal education I have previously given. But it needs repeating for emphasis, and this time I will reproduce a chunk of the law for your use.
This is critical education because we all may, at some point, have to deal with those who enforce the law, the police.
I am dealing with key rules of arrest and bail following complaints of wrongdoing by police in arresting and detaining Koku Anyidoho without a warrant and refusing him bail the afternoon of his arrest and the next day. If it is true, then it was wrong to arrest him without telling him why he was being arrested. It is a constitutional requirement in article 14 to observe the Miranda rule in effecting a lawful arrest.
First, the police are under a legal obligation to “immediately inform him of the reasons for his arrest, restriction or detention” and doing so “in a language that he understands”. The second duty is to let the suspect know that whatever he may say from that moment could be used against him/her in court.
You are not to incriminate yourself as you are not required to prove your innocence because the burden is on your accuser to prove beyond doubt the crime he alleges you have committed or are about to commit. It is important therefore, thirdly, that you are told of your “right to a lawyer of [your] choice” from the point of arrest, restriction or detention.
You must learn to submit to lawful arrest because you commit a further offence if you obstruct the police officer while he is executing this duty. Guess what? If he fails to observe your Miranda rights, you should resist the arrest because it is unlawful. Our courts have held as far back as 1972 (in the case of Asante v. The Republic) that a civilian was within his right when he retaliated an assault on an officer who didn’t give a reason for inviting the businessman to come along with him to the police station.
I do not know why the police decided to pursue a man at a public event and fully armed as if he is a known criminal and a flight risk. The basic rule they are to observe is that “[i]n making an arrest a police officer or any other person making the arrest, shall actually touch or confine the body of the person to be arrested, unless there is a submission to the custody verbally or by conduct.”
They will apply reasonable minimum force to achieve this where the circumstances demand it. And when they succeed, the law dictates that “[a] person arrested shall not be subjected to more restraint than is necessary to prevent the escape of the person arrested.”
But do they require a warrant to arrest you? No! In fact, the duty/right to effect an arrest and even do so without a warrant is extended to civilians, except that you are required to immediately hand the suspect over to a police officer or to the nearest police station.
Provision is made from section 10 of the Criminal Procedure Act so that you, like the police, can arrest without a warrant when any of the following offence has or is being committed in your presence:
(a) an offence involving the use of force or violence;
(b) an offence by which bodily harm is caused to another person;
(c) an offence in the nature of stealing or fraud;
(d) an offence involving injury to public property; or
(e) an offence involving injury to property owned by, or in the lawful care or custody of, that private person.
The police will, additionally, exercise this duty on a person who:
“(a) commits an offence in the presence of the police officer
(b) obstructs a police officer in the execution of that police officer’s duty;
(c) has escaped or attempts to escape from lawful custody;
(d) possesses an implement adapted or intended for use to unlawfully enter a building, and does not give a reasonable excuse for the possession of the implement;
(e) possesses a thing which may reasonably be suspected to be stolen property.”
Then “[a] police officer may arrest without warrant a person whom the police officer suspects on reasonable grounds
(a) of having committed an offence;
(b) of being about to commit an offence, in order to prevent the commission of the offence;
(c) of being about to commit an offence, where the police officer finds that person in any highway, yard, building or other place during the night;
(d) of being a person for whom a warrant of arrest has been issued by a Court;
(e) of being a deserter from the Armed Forces; or
(f) of having been concerned in an act committed outside the Republic which, if committed in the Republic, would have been punishable as an offence, and for which that person, is under an enactment, liable to be arrested and detained in the Republic.”
In a similar vein, a police officer of the approved rank (not below ASP) or authorization is allowed to search without a warrant with the chief aim of preventing a crime or interference with and a possibility of concealing evidence of crime. Otherwise, they must obtain a warrant from court for specific purpose and in such case don’t allow them to exceed the authority granted in the warrant.
In part (II) I show that even though presently there is no criminal offence labeled as non baillable, bail is not automatic. It is a discretionary relief. If police refuse to grant bail, they must arraign an accused before court within 48 hours of arrest, restriction or detention. The accused has the opportunity ask the court for bail but the court reserves the discretion to refuse or grant bail.
Credit: Samson Lardy