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. 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 GTA 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 Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 and London 1961, the term is known as "You're Nicked!" which British slang for arresting people.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- In GTA IV, there will be no message reading "Busted" on the screen. 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 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 the 3D Universe and HD Universe, if the player is arrested, the law enforcements will point his weapon as a pistol, regardless what weapon they carry.
- 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, trough rarely, he may open the passenger door to arrest the player.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, when you are busted you lose not your guns, but ammo instead.
- 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.