What is the difference between detention and arrest?

What is the Difference Between a Detention and an Arrest?

A detention is when the police feel they have reasonable suspicion that have committed, are committing or about to commit a crime. If the police have reasonable suspicion they can detain you and you are not free to leave. In order for the police to arrest you, they must have probable cause that you have committed a crime. Obviously, once you are arrested you are in handcuffs and you are not free to leave. You are going to jail.

The police often detain a citizen without a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.  Once the police “detain” you, your Fourth Amendment Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures applies. This means that you can challenge thestop and detention in court if your criminal defense attorney feels it is appropriate after reviewing all of the facts of your case. If the police have illegally detained you, without a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, anything they find later on such as drugs or other contraband is then thrown out of court and your case dismissed.

Written by

Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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