Detained vs Arrested: Understanding the difference between the two is important

For instance, you are going on the highway, and suddenly the police officer stops you. They ask you to get out of your car and hold you under handcuffs. Scary it may sound, but if this kind of scenario happens, then it doesn’t mean that you are going to jail. There could be two probable reasons. Either you are detained or are arrested.

However, how would you know if you are detained vs arrested? Don’t worry, we will explain to you the difference between both and how you must respond when you are in any of the situations, be it detainment or an arrest.

Let’s begin with the definitions;

Detained vs Arrested

Detained: Keeping in mind the scenario we discussed above, if the officer asks you to get out of your car and handcuffs you, and asks you to stay outside, while he/she may check your vehicle, this means you are just detained for the moment. Yes, handcuffs may give you an impression of an arrest, but these are just used so that a possible suspect may not flee away.

Once the officer would have checked your car and your belongings and if they have asked you questions to satisfy their suspicion and deemed that you were not at any fault and there is no need for them to keep you convicted, the officer may release you. All the time that you were in handcuffs, you were not arrested, you were just detained until the officer completed his investigation over a possible suspected illegal activity or a crime.

However, if while checking your belongings, or at any point of the time, the officer has any confirmed proof that you were up to any illegal activity or were planning a crime, you can get arrested directly. And if this happens, all your belongings will be confiscated, and the officer will remind you of your Miranda rights. Next, you’ll be taken to the Station, and will get your thumbprints and fingerprints done along with your headshots. After that, your case would be handed over to the preliminary judge, who will decide what must be your bail amount and when you must appear at the court.

If your crime is too serious, you may have to remain behind the bars until the hearing, or you may get bail, but will have to appear on the given date. One more thing to remember is that you are innocent, until proven guilty, so even if you were arrested and are behind bars or bailed out, but the crime has not been proved on you, you will still be considered innocent.

However, regardless of if you are proved innocent later, an arrest will always appear on your record. On the contrary, detention would not.

Now that we have explained the difference between detained vs arrested, we hope that both the terms are clear to you now. Moreover, if in a situation, you are confused about, whether you have been arrested or detained, you can ask the officer and he/she shall answer your query.

While we were discussing the difference between detained and arrested, we also discusses that the officer will check your belongings. However, many questions, can they refuse the officer’s request of checking their personal belongings or not.

Can you deny the officer’s request to search your personal belongings?

One thing we all know is that if any officer knocks on your door and asks you to search your house, they can’t do so unless they have the right paperwork with them along with a search warrant. However, again, taking our first scenario into the picture, what if an officer asks you to let them check your vehicle. What should be your response and can you deny them?

Yes, an officer would surely need your consent to check you and your belongings, but they won’t need the paperwork for this. Therefore, this agreement will be verbal. This means that they will ask you, that they need to check your vehicle, and you’ll have o agree to it, which will also act as your consent. Unfortunately, here your Fourth Amendment Right Against Search and Seizure would go void because once you are out of your car, the officer will check your vehicle including all your belongings regardless. Moreover, if they are already suspecting you of a probable crime, they can check your belongings anyway, regardless of your consent.

So just make sure that you are not involved in any illegal activity or have any illegal belonging or stolen items in your vehicle. Because while they would be conducting a search, you would only be detained, however, if they find anything that goes against the law, your detainment can change to an arrest.

Now, this would make you wonder, what if you actually get arrested, how would you get bail, and what would be the next step.

How to tackle an arrest?

In the scenario, you get arrested, the first thing that the officer would remind you of are your Miranda Rights. Be smart to use it and don’t reveal anything unless you’ve talked to your lawyer. Once you’ll be taken to the station and all the processing would be done including your thumb scan etc, then you’ll be put behind bars until a preliminary judge gives you a date and bail amount. Once you get your bail amount, pay that and get out of jail. Next, wait for your trial and talk to your prosecutor about your case.

Now that we have explained how you can tackle detention and arrest situations as well, it’s time for us to conclude. We hope that the next time you are under handcuffs, you will know what to do next.

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