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Difference between Detention and Arrest

Difference between Detention and Arrest

There is a big difference between detention and arrest, although the words are often used interchangeably. Detention is when someone is held for questioning or for a crime they are suspected of committing. The arrest is when someone is taken into custody after being accused of a crime. Being arrested means you have been charged with a crime while being detained means you are still considered innocent until proven guilty. If you are arrested, you will likely be taken to jail, while if you are detained, you may be released depending on the circumstances. It’s important to understand the distinction between these two terms in case you find yourself in one of these situations.

What is Detention?

Detention is the act of holding someone in custody, typically in a law enforcement or military setting. The term can also refer to the physical facility where someone is held in custody. Detention is usually used as a precautionary measure, rather than as a form of punishment. In many cases, detainees are held for questioning or for a short period of time until they can be released or transferred to another facility. However, there are also cases where detention can last for weeks, months, or even years. Detention is a legal term that is often used in relation to prisons and other places of incarceration.

What is Arrest?

  • Arrest is the legal term for the detention of a person by state or federal authorities in order to secure their appearance at a criminal trial. Arrests can be made by law enforcement officers, private citizens, or even by the arrestee him or herself.
  • Once a person has been arrested, they may be held in custody for a period of time before being released on bail or on their own recognizance. If the charges against an individual are dropped or they are found not guilty at trial, then the arrest will not result in a conviction.
  • However, even an arrest that does not lead to a conviction can have negative consequences, such as damage to one’s reputation or employment prospects.

Difference between Detention and Arrest

Detention and Arrest are both legal terms that are often used interchangeably. However, there is a key distinction between the two.

  • Detention refers to the temporary custody of an individual, usually by law enforcement, in order to investigate or question them about a crime.
  • Arrest, on the other hand, is the formal process of taking an individual into custody in order to charge them with a crime.
  • Once an individual is placed under arrest, they have certain legal rights, such as the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
  • Detention, on the other hand, does not confer these same rights.

As a result, Detention is often considered a less serious form of custody than Arrest.


The most fundamental distinction is that a person who has been arrested has been taken into custody because of suspected involvement in a crime, while a detained person has not. Detention can be for investigative purposes only, whereas an arrest requires “probable cause” – i.e., there must be some evidence that the person being arrested has committed or was about to commit a crime. There are other important distinctions as well: for example, arrests generally require warrants, while detentions may not; also, those arrested have certain rights that detainees do not have.

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