Difference Between Detention and Arrest

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: June 07, 2023


Difference Between Detention and Arrest

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As crime rates rise, words like "detention" and "arrest" have become more commonplace. When we examine anything carefully, we presume that putting someone in jail constitutes an arrest. similarly, Detention is just a different word for arrest. However, this is incorrect as there are numerous differences between the two names. We are designed to be protected, which is why laws and norms are in place. However, depending on the severity of the offense, when someone disobeys the law or the regulations, they may be detained or arrested. Although both involve limiting someone's freedom, there are differences in the circumstances and potential legal repercussions. To guarantee that justice is administered properly, it is crucial to comprehend how the two terms differ from one another. so, here we will overlook some of the eminent distinctions between detention and arrest.

Detention vs Arrest

Many times, people think that being detained and arrested is the same as breaking the law. A temporary restriction of a person's freedom of movement, typically for a short time, is referred to as detention. It might happen during a traffic stop, when a suspect is being questioned, or when someone is having their mental health assessed. Non-citizens who are believed to be breaking immigration laws may also be placed in detention. A person who has just been detained is kept in police custody so that they can question them based on reasonable suspicion. However, after being detained, the offender is charged with a felony and has 24 hours to make an appearance in court.

A person is only held in custody temporarily, so within a short time, depending on the evidence gathered, they may be released or arrested. When someone is arrested, however, they may be kept in custody until their bail is approved or their case is heard by a judge As a result, the amount of time a person is held in custody is determined by several variables, including the quantity and seriousness of the evidence acquired and the judge's ruling.  Ensuring public safety and preventing the person from eluding capture or interfering with the investigation are the main objectives of holding someone in jail

Difference between Detention and Arrest in tabular form

Parameters of comparisonDetentionArrest
MeaningThe act of keeping someone in legally binding custody and interrogating them concerning a specific subject or offense is commonly referred to as detention.When a suspect in a crime is taken into custody by police so they can conduct an investigation and remove them from their freedom, this is known as an arrest.
Criminal recordThe criminal record is not recorded during detention.A criminal record is maintained on the person’s record.
Duration  A detention is usually for a shorter duration as compared with an arrest.Until bail is approved or a matter is brought before the court, a person may be taken into custody in custody.
The offense as per the lawThe detention is taken less seriously as an offense.The arrest is more of a serious offense when comes to law.
BasisSuspiciousness forms the basis for detaining an individual.Only getting suspicious about someone is not enough. The police need solid evidence to hold the individual in custody.

What is Detention?

An individual is put in detention when they are held against their will and have their rights temporarily suspended. If the authorities believe a person has committed a crime or other wrongdoing, they have the right to detain them. However, the police are only permitted to hold someone for a limited amount of time and cannot do so without a good reason. In its alternate sense, the term "detention" relates to the practice of punishing schoolchildren by holding them in after school hours. In that both the pupils and the suspects are being detained against their will by the law, this situation is comparable to when police detain suspects.

A person is detained until a trial or hearing, at which point they are either arrested or freed on the judge's or another legal authority's order.

The length of time differs from country to country and is frequently determined by the government. The police must either release the subject once the allotted period has passed or make an arrest. Before a trial or hearing, a person is placed in detention; after that, they are either arrested or released on the judge's or another legal authority's order.

Moreover, it does not imply an authorized arrest; rather, it refers to merely detaining, restraining, or questioning someone about the claimed crime. We may have certain thoughts about what to call a person who is held responsible for certain crimes. The answer is "detainees". Detainees are those who are held without being found guilty of a crime, i.e., those who are denied their right to privacy.

An individual can be kept in custody by the police for up to 24 hours depending on how serious the offense was, but extended detention requires court approval. Because of this, if the police want to hold an individual for more than 24 hours, they must argue their case in front of a judge, who will then determine whether or not to grant an extension. By doing so, it will be made sure that people are not unlawfully detained for an excessive amount of time.

Period of Detention

Under the amount of the court's order against him and if he has failed to make the required payment, Section 58 defines the length of time that an individual may be imprisoned. It states that a person cannot be held for longer than three months if the decretal sum exceeds $5,000 and that they cannot be held for longer than six weeks if the decretal amount is between $2,000 and $5,000. No order for the court's debtor's detention may be issued if the sum is under two thousand rupees.

Further, we will be discussing the circumstances or the situations of the detention which have been discussed below:

Violation of laws or regulations:

If someone is suspected of breaking the law or a rule, such as a traffic law or a drug law, they may be detained or arrested.

Suspicions of criminal activity:

If law enforcement personnel have a good faith suspicion or a solid reason to believe that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, they have the authority to detain or arrest the person.

Domestic disputes:

Law enforcement officials may be requested to interfere in domestic disputes, which occasionally leads to the detention or arrest of one or more people.

Disobedience to legal orders:

Disobedience to legal instructions from law enforcement personnel or other officials may result in detention or arrest.

What is Arrest?

A person is arrested when they are taken into custody with the intent to charge them with a crime.

It entails the use of physical restraint, such as handcuffs, and is often carried out by law enforcement agents who have the legal right to conduct an arrest.

A person who has been arrested is escorted to a police station or a jail for booking. The person's name, address, and date of birth are all entered into a database throughout the booking procedure. Additionally, they might be fingerprinted and photographed. Making a record of the arrest and confirming the person's identity and proper processing are the two goals of booking. The person may be remanded in jail until the completion of the booking procedure until they are either released or taken in front of a judge for a hearing to decide their bail.

The police officer making the arrest must compile a "Memo of Arrest" that includes the date and time of the arrest and is duly signed by the person being arrested as well as any of his friends, relatives, or other respected locals.

Be aware of the following:

  • For example, only female cops are allowed to search women who are being detained, and only in a way that safeguards their privacy. This provides special protection for women who are being detained.
  • The female suspect must be detained separately from the male suspects, not in the same cell. In the lack of a separate women's lockup, they must be sent to the closest police station with one.

No matter what gender a detainee is, it is crucial to protect their privacy and safety. Male and female suspects' private rights may be violated by holding them together, which increases the risk of sexual harassment and assault. Because of this, law enforcement organizations must take the appropriate steps to guarantee that female suspects are imprisoned apart from male suspects. All detainees' safety and well-being must be prioritized, so if there isn't a separate women's lockup, use the next police station with one.

Who can't be put in prison?

Under the numerous CPC provisions, several groups of people are not subject to being detained or arrested. These people include:

  1. women, as defined by Section 56;
  2.  judges, as defined by Section 135(1);
  3. Members of legislatures, as defined in Section 135A,
  4. Classes of Persons, as defined in Section 55(2), whose arrest, in the State Government's opinion, would result in threat or discomfort to the public, and
  5. When the decretal sum is below 2,000 rupees, section 58(1A) applies.

Arrest warrant

The police officer must often present a warrant before making an arrest. A warrant is a legal document signed by the magistrate that is presented to the subject before effecting an arrest. This assures that the arrest is lawful and that the police have probable cause to make the arrest. The warrant also specifies the precise charges against the subject as well as the location where the arrest can take place. Failure to provide a warrant can result in the arrest being declared illegal and any evidence gathered during the arrest being inadmissible in court. As a result, police officers must follow the correct processes and get a warrant before making an arrest.

Differences between Detention and Arrest in points

  • When the offense is less significant, detention is used; however, arresting those responsible is preferred if the crime is more significant. A person may be held by store guards until the police show up, for instance, if they are found stealing a small item. On the other hand, the police will most likely make an instantaneous arrest if a significant crime like a burglary with weapons is committed.
  • When someone remains in custody without being arrested, it is not recorded in their criminal record; however, it could show up on the police's criminal history.
  • As detention is only temporary, depending on the evidence gathered, a person shall not be detained for more than a few minutes before being released or arrested. If someone's been arrested, he or she can be held for some time before their bail is granted and the court hears his or her case.
  • A person can be held in custody with simply a reasonable suspicion. In contrast, there must be some solid evidence or proof before an arrest can be made.
  • Compared to an arrest, where the police have the right to search the subject of the being apprehended, imprisonment offers fewer possibilities for searches.


In conclusion, there are some significant distinctions between the terms "arrest" and "detention" that we have discussed. Simply said, police can take someone into custody if they have a good reason to believe they are guilty. To make a legally valid arrest on some criminal accusations, they still require probable cause. To put it simply, police need only have a reasonable suspicion to place someone in a person's custody, but they need probable cause to lawfully place someone in an arrest. For the police to arrest as opposed to simply holding a person in custody, more information and greater assurance are required. To defend themselves, people must be aware of both their legal rights and the rules that govern police activities.


  • M.P Jain, The Code of Civil Procedure, 2nd edition (2007).
  • https://blog.ipleaders.in/arrest-and-detention/



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"Difference Between Detention and Arrest." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 14 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-detention-and-arrest>.

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