What is the Difference Between Being Arrested and Detained in NYC?

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What is the Difference Between Being Arrested and Detained in NYC?


In any interaction with the police, it’s important to understand what is going on during every step of the process. In addition, at times the difference between a detention and an arrest can offer your attorney tools to use in your defense. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Stopped and Questioned: Detained

You are detained any time you are pulled over, or stopped on the street for a stop-and-frisk. You may also be detained if you are being brought down to the station to answer questions. 

In order to detain you, the officer has to have reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place, or probable cause such as a traffic violation. 

You can often tell the difference by asking the officer if you are free to go. If the officer says “yes,” you were detained, not arrested. 

You should always treat being detained as a potential arrest, and should avoid answering questions. You still have the right to remain silent, but you need to exercise it. You also have the right to refuse a search. You should never consent to a search. There is never a good reason to allow a search unless the police have a warrant. 

In addition, in some cases, such as being brought to the station to answer questions, it’s appropriate to ask for a lawyer and to refuse to answer questions until your lawyer has arrived. 

Keep in mind that in New York you’re not required to carry ID while walking, and you don’t have to show ID to a police officer. In addition, officers are required to tell you why they are stopping you. 

At any moment, being detained can turn into an arrest. It’s usually wise to remain calm and polite during these interactions. Don’t fight, yell, or run away. This can lead to your arrest. 

Cuffed and Mirandized: Arrested

At this point you are being charged with a crime. You absolutely need to exercise your right to remain silent. Nothing you say is going to induce the police to let you go. In addition, it’s important to be aware that anything you say over the phone can be recorded and used against you. 

You may also be under arrest if officers take you to a separate, private area, or take any of your personal effects or belongings. 

You also need to ask for an attorney as quickly as possible. An attorney can help protect you. 

Defense Strategies

If officers act like they are only detaining you and do not Mirandize you and then proceed to find evidence against you by searching your belongings then it is possible we can suppress the evidence they found. Be sure to tell us every step of the police interaction and at what point various actions took place, as these facts may be important later.

If you or a loved one are in trouble and need help, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up a case review today. 

See also:

When Can You Be Accused of Resisting Arrest in New York? 

Is it a Crime to Insult a Police Officer?

How a New York Attorney Gets Charges Dismissed


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