Many factors can contribute to this:
- Being pulled from a vehicle, or having the player's vehicle door successfully opened by a member of law enforcement.
- Being on the ground when a member of law enforcement is within a certain radius. This tends to happen if the player engages in melee combat with a member of law enforcement, and is knocked to the ground.
- Being knocked to the ground while attempting to steal a law enforcement vehicle, with an agent inside.
As a result of getting busted, the player has their body armor and all of their weapons confiscated, and will fail any mission that was in progress at the time of arrest. The player will also have to pay a fee of $100. In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, the player also loses all of their garage-stored vehicles, and in Chinatown Wars, any drugs currently held by the player are confiscated.
In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, the player's confiscated weapons can be returned for $2000. They will be processed at the closest precinct, and a small amount of money will also be taken by the police as a bribe.
In Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V, the player is permitted to resist arrest by breaking away during the arrest. This can only be done if being held at gunpoint by an officer. Doing so will earn the player a two-star wanted level, and cause the arresting officer (and any others in the vicinity) to engage the player with their firearm.
- In the 3D Universe and HD Universe, if the player is arrested, the law enforcement officers will aim their weapon as a pistol, regardless of what weapon they carry. This is most likely an animation error.
- In all the games of the 3D Universe, once a player is arrested and the "BUSTED!" words appear on the screen nothing can undo this. If the cop dies during the busted sequence the player will not get up (except if the player takes explosive damage) and will remain on the ground or in their car (if a vehicular arrest has been performed). Also, it is impossible to go from the "BUSTED!" sequence to the "WASTED!" sequence as the player will be invulnerable to any type of damage while in the "BUSTED" sequence. However, if the player takes explosion damage while "BUSTED" appear, the player can regain control only for few seconds before they begin transported to the nearest police station.
- In the 3D Universe (except for GTA San Andreas), if the player dies with an officer of the law nearby, the officer will pull out his pistol just as if he is arresting the player (regardless of whether they had a wanted level or not). However, the words "WASTED!" will still appear on the screen and the player will still be respawned at the nearest hospital.
- In the 3D Universe, if the player is arrested by an officer who was killed then revived by a paramedic, the officer will still use pistol arrest animation while his hand is empty.
- This also happens in GTA IV if the player shot the police officer's pistol off his hand and then got arrested by getting pulled out of the car.
- No matter what crimes the player did commit, police will always let the player go after taking them to the police station.
- In Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and London 1961, the term is known as "You're Nicked!" which is a British slang for arresting people.
- In GTA 2, there is a little joke where after you are taken to the police station, you will be thrown out of a moving police car when they let you go although you can jump out before being thrown. Presumably this is to fit in with the dystopian rough theme the game has.
- In the Grand Theft Auto III beta, when you were busted it showed red and yellow letters reading busted. This was changed to a simple orange color in the final version.
GTA San Andreas
- Prior to GTA San Andreas, the police officer can arrest the player from opening passenger door. While in GTA San Andreas, the police officer will usually arrest the player by opening the driver door, though rarely, he may open the passenger door to arrest the player.
GTA Vice City
- Sometimes after you get busted you can hear Tommy's lawyer talking to the law about if Tommy deserves to be in jail, after that, you are respawned out of the station.
GTA Vice City Stories
- In the game when you throw a punch in the air, without hitting anyone near pedestrian, the pedestrian who was near the punching animation will be angry and attack the player, if you do this near a cop, he will act like a 1-star wanted level and if you sit in a car, he will open the door and arrest you, even if you have no wanted level. Also you still lose your weapons and cars.
- When an NPC gets arrested in Grand Theft Auto IV, driving a police vehicle will occasionally have the officer and criminal enter your vehicle and after a few seconds the player receives a wanted level and the officer and criminal will exit the vehicle when it stops. If the player leaves the vehicle near the criminal and officer, they will enter the vehicle and begin to drive away. Stealing the vehicle back will not earn the player a wanted level.
- In GTA IV, when an NPC is being arrested and no police car pulls over to pick up the officer and criminal, the criminal is more than likely to run away and/or attack the officer. This can be prevented with the use of cheats, the FIB Buffalo spawn cheat. If it is spawned close enough to the officer, they will direct the criminal into the back seat and drive away with them. The officer may also utter a comment such as "A good samaritan? Rare sight in this city!", or "Is this some sort of a trick, asshole?.. Thanks, I guess." They may also say "Thanks man, we need more people like you." This varies depending on the officers, as some of them are rude, and some of them are thankful, although this does not affect the main gameplay.
- In GTA IV, there is no message reading "Busted" on the screen when being arrested. Instead, the screen will turn grey and, after a few seconds, you will be returned to the nearest police station. However, if something interrupts the police officer doing the "arrest" animation (such as a car crashing into them), the game will glitch and it will continue showing the slow-mo scene until you press the left mouse-button, which skips the scene. Skipping with the mouse also works when you simply don't want to watch the whole busted scene.
- In GTA IV, if Niko Bellic has a wanted level while he is drunk, the cops will wait for him to sober up before attempting to arrest him.
- In GTA IV, if the player is arrested in the passenger seat (not to be confused as a passenger in a taxi) via trainers in singleplayer, the police will simply use the generic carjacking animation to pull the player out. When pulled out, the officer will be simply shooting at the player instead of playing the arrest animation. This is because in multiplayer, the police lack an arrest function.
GTA Chinatown Wars
- In the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS versions of Chinatown Wars, cheating wanted stars away with a cop on foot will result in the cop opening a door on a random vehicle and walking away.
- The police arrest the player by running up to them once their health is low. The player is then knocked on to the ground and "BUSTED" appears.
- In GTA V, when you are busted, the scene is a combination of what happens when you get busted in the 3D Universe games and GTA IV; the screen turns black and white (like GTA IV), but the "Busted" message also appears (like in the 3D Universe games).
- In Grand Theft Auto V, when you are busted you don't lose your guns, but ammo and body armor is confiscated after bail is paid (though the Stun Gun can still be used afterwards due to its unlimited ammunition).
- When the player is busted in the Brazilian Portuguese version of GTA V, the advice is instead "Perdeu, Playboy", roughly translatable into "You lost, pal", a common Brazilian term for being caught red handed.
- In GTA V, if the player is 'drunk driving', pedestrians might make remarks and call the cops.
- If the player has a wanted level in first person they may be busted without noticing.