Escaping From Lawful Custody

– section 49E of the Summary Offences Act 1966

Escaping From Lawful Custody


Escaping From Lawful Custody means that while you were in Police custody you ran away or tried to run away.

Examples of Escaping From Lawful Custody
  • The Police pull over a man and he jumps out of his car and runs away.
  • A woman is arrested and is in a police van. She tries to open the door to jump out.
  • A man escapes from prison.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of Escaping From Lawful Custody?
  • You did not try to escape.

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • Can they prove that you tried to escape?
  • Did you have a reason for leaving?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is 2 years imprisonment.
Escaping from lawful custody is the sort of summary offence regularly heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

“Did you try to escape from the Police?”
What is the legal definition of Escaping From Lawful Custody?

A person, while being lawfully detained, escapes or attempts to escape from custody.


The section that covers this offence is section 49E of the Summary Offences Act 1966.1

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

If you escaped from prison, then you could get the maximum penalty which is 2 years imprisonment. If you tried to escape from police custody, then you may only receive a fine.


[1] Summary Offences Act 1966 – Section 49E

A person must not escape or attempt to escape from—
(a) any place in which he or she is being lawfully detained; or
(b) any person in whose legal custody he or she is or by whom he or she is being lawfully detained.
Penalty: 2 years imprisonment.