Difference Between
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Arrest vs. Detain: Know the Difference

Dua Fatima
By Dua Fatima & Shumaila Saeed || Published on June 26, 2024
Arrest involves taking someone into custody with the intention of charging them with a crime, while detainment is a temporary hold for questioning or investigation without necessarily leading to charges.
Arrest vs. Detain

Key Differences

Arrest and detainment are two legal actions taken by law enforcement but differ significantly in their implications and procedures. An arrest is a formal process where an individual is taken into custody because there is sufficient evidence or suspicion that they have committed a crime. This process often leads to charges being filed, and the arrested individual has specific legal rights, including the right to be informed of the charges against them.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jun 26, 2024
Detainment, on the other hand, is a shorter-term action where an individual is temporarily held by law enforcement for questioning or during an investigation. The key difference is that detainment does not always lead to an arrest or charges. Law enforcement officers may detain someone if they have reasonable suspicion of involvement in a crime, but they must release the individual after a certain period if there is insufficient evidence to charge them.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024
The duration of detainment is typically much shorter than that of an arrest, which can lead to prolonged custody until a court hearing or bail is set. Detainment is meant to be used sparingly and only as long as it is necessary to investigate the individual's involvement in a crime.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024
Rights under arrest include the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to be informed of the charges. During detainment, individuals also have rights, but the focus is on the temporary nature of the hold, primarily for investigative purposes.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Jun 26, 2024
The decision to arrest or detain is based on the evidence available to law enforcement and the specific circumstances of the situation. Both actions are subject to legal standards and protections to prevent abuse, including the requirement for reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Purpose

To charge an individual with a crime
To temporarily hold for questioning/investigation
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jun 26, 2024

Legal Basis

Probable cause
Reasonable suspicion
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024

Duration

Until a court hearing, bail, or release
Short-term, often limited to a few hours
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024

Outcome

Charges filed, leading to trial
May or may not lead to charges
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024

Rights

Right to remain silent, attorney, know charges
Right to remain silent, limited duration
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024
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Procedure

Formal process involving booking
Less formal, primarily for questioning
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jun 26, 2024

Arrest and Detain Definitions

Arrest

A formal process taking someone into custody for a crime.
The police arrested the suspect based on evidence of theft.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

Temporary hold by law enforcement for questioning.
He was detained by police near the crime scene for questioning.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

Invokes full legal rights.
Upon arrest, he was read his rights, including the right to an attorney.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

Does not necessarily lead to charges.
Although detained, she was released without charges due to lack of evidence.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 27, 2024
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Arrest

Leads to charges and a possible trial.
After his arrest, he was charged and awaited his court date.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

Based on reasonable suspicion.
They detained him because they had reasonable suspicion of his involvement.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

Entails a detailed booking process.
After the arrest, the suspect was booked at the police station.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

Less formal than an arrest.
They detained the individual for a brief period to clarify suspicious activity.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

Requires probable cause.
The officer arrested her because there was probable cause to believe she committed the crime.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

To keep from proceeding; delay or retard
Our friends were detained by heavy traffic.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

To stop; to check or hinder the motion or action of; as, to arrest the current of a river; to arrest the senses.
Nor could her virtues the relentless handOf Death arrest.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

(Archaic) To retain or withhold (payment or property, for example).
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

To rest or fasten; to fix; to concentrate.
We may arrest our thoughts upon the divine mercies.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

To hold or keep in custody.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

To stop; check.
A brake that automatically arrests motion.
Arrested the growth of the tumor.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

Deprive of freedom; take into confinement.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

To capture and hold briefly (the attention, for example); engage.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

Limited in duration.
The detainee was held for a couple of hours for investigative purposes.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

The act of detaining in legal custody.
The arrest of a criminal suspect.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

To put under custody.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

A confinement, detention, as after an arrest.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Detain

To restrain from proceeding; to stay or stop; to delay; as, we were detained by an accident.
Let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

To seize and hold under the authority of law.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

(legal) The process of arresting a criminal, suspect etc.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

A device to physically arrest motion.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

(obsolete) Any seizure by power, physical or otherwise.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

To stop the motion of (a person, animal, or body part).
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Arrest

To undergo cardiac arrest.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Feb 27, 2024

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What justifies an arrest?

An arrest is justified by probable cause, meaning there is sufficient evidence to believe the individual committed a crime.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jun 26, 2024

Does detainment go on your record?

Detainment itself does not typically go on your criminal record, unlike an arrest, which may be recorded even if charges are not filed.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Jun 26, 2024

Can you be detained without being arrested?

Yes, individuals can be detained for questioning or during an investigation without being formally arrested.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jun 26, 2024

How long can law enforcement detain you?

The duration of detainment varies by jurisdiction, but it is generally limited to a few hours unless it transitions into an arrest.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024

Is probable cause required for detainment?

Detainment requires reasonable suspicion, which is a lower standard than the probable cause needed for an arrest.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jun 26, 2024

What are your rights when detained?

When detained, you have the right to remain silent and, in some jurisdictions, the right to know the reason for your detainment, but the specifics can vary.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024

Can you refuse to be detained?

While you can ask if you are free to go, refusing law enforcement's order to detain can lead to further legal complications.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Jun 26, 2024

What should you do if you believe your detainment is unjust?

Remain calm, comply with law enforcement, and exercise your right to remain silent. Contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024

What happens after an arrest?

After an arrest, the individual is booked, may be held in custody until a court hearing, and could be charged with a crime.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Jun 26, 2024

How does detainment affect future legal proceedings?

The details of the detainment, especially if it leads to an arrest, can be important in future legal proceedings and defense strategies.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Jun 26, 2024

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About Author
Dua Fatima
Written by
Dua Fatima
Shumaila Saeed
Co-written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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