Victoria Legal Aid

Being released from police custody

What happens when you are released from police custody, including applying for bail and if you are charged.

After being arrested you may be released from police custody:

  • without being charged
  • charged with the offence
  • on bail.

If you are released after being charged or granted bail, you will have to go to court later to face the charges.

When you are released from custody, the police will ask you ‘Are you satisfied with your treatment by police here today?’ and ‘Has all your property been returned to you?'

If you say ‘yes’ to the questions, you agree that the police have:

  • not taken any of your belongings from you
  • treated you reasonably.

You do not have to agree if you do not want to. If you are not happy with your treatment, you can also make a complaint.


Bail means the police release you from custody if you promise to go to court later to face the charges against you. To get bail, you may have to agree to conditions such as:

You must follow your bail conditions. If you do not, the police may arrest you and take you back to court.

How to get bail

The police can give you bail at the police station.

You can also ask for bail. The police must take you to court within a reasonable time so that you can apply to the magistrate for bail. The magistrate will decide if you get bail.

If the court is closed, the police can get a bail justice to come to the station.

A bail justice is an independent person (not a police officer) who decides whether you should be bailed. However, if the bail justice refuses you bail, you stay in custody until the police can take you to court.

Help applying for bail

Ask to see a lawyer if you want help applying for bail at court. They can give you advice about your chances of getting bail. They may apply for bail for you or let you know if it is better to do the bail application yourself.

A lawyer can also help you apply for bail later if the magistrate does not give you bail the first time. You will stay in custody until the next date.

If you have a cognitive disability or mental illness, the police officer must get an independent third person to be with you if a bail justice comes to the police station to do the bail hearing.

Signing a 'bail undertaking'

When the police charge and release you on bail, you must sign a form called a ‘bail undertaking’ before you can go. By signing this form, you promise to go to court on a certain date and you agree to any other bail conditions.

If you are charged

The police may charge you with a criminal offence. This means you will have to go to court.

The police will serve you with a summons and charge sheet or they can give you a notice to appear. Both documents describe the offence the police believe you have committed. The documents tell you when you have to go to court. There will be different steps to take depending on what type of document the police give you.

As soon as you get a summons or a notice to appear, get legal advice.

It's always a good idea to speak to a lawyer before you have to go to court for a criminal charge.

Other support

Find out how you can get other support for your rights when it comes to police powers.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 30 April 2024

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