During a criminal case, the terms “arrested” and “detained” are often used interchangeably. However, these are two different situations with important legal distinctions. Whether you have been detained or arrested in Phoenix, your legal rights remain the same – including the right to remain silent and the right to have a Phoenix criminal defense attorney represent you.

What Is an Arrest?

An arrest means that law enforcement has taken a suspect into their physical custody based on probable cause that the individual has committed a crime. A person who has been arrested will not be released from police custody until he or she posts bail (if charged with a crime), the prosecution decides not to file charges, or the charges are dropped.

During an arrest, the arresting police officer must inform the individual of his or her Miranda rights. These are constitutional rights that include the right to remain silent, the warning that anything said can be used against the individual, and the right to an attorney. An arrest will typically involve placing the individual in handcuffs, after which he or she will be transported to a police precinct for booking.

At the police station, the individual will be fingerprinted and photographed. Then, the suspect will be held in custody pending bail proceedings or an arraignment hearing. Throughout the arrest and subsequent detainment in police custody, an individual is entitled to due process. This includes the right to fair treatment, the presumption of innocence, and the right to legal counsel.

What Does it Mean to Be Detained?

Being detained means an individual has been stopped by a police officer temporarily while the officer determines whether further action needs to be taken. To detain someone, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion that the suspect committed a crime, helped someone else commit a crime or is about to commit a crime. Note that “reasonable suspicion” is a lower standard than probable cause, which is the necessary standard to make an arrest. 

The purpose of detainment is to allow the police officer to gather information from the detained person. The officer may ask for the detained individual’s name, as well as where he or she is coming from, going from or what the person is doing. If the investigation gives the police officer probable cause or a justifiable basis to do so, the detainment can turn into an arrest. If not, the officer has an obligation to let the suspect go.

Questioning or detainment does not mean a person is under arrest or has been charged with a crime. Under Arizona law, a maximum of 48 hours of detainment is allowed before the police must decide to either make an arrest or release the individual. It is against the law for the police to keep someone in custody for longer than two days without formally charging him or her with a crime and making an arrest.

What to Do if You Are Arrested or Detained in Phoenix

While being arrested and detained both involve the restriction of your freedom, there are distinct differences you should understand during any type of encounter with law enforcement. If you get stopped by the police, use your right to remain silent. You are under no obligation to answer a law enforcement officer’s questions, other than to provide your name and address, if asked.

Verbally invoke your right to remain silent by stating that you will not answer any questions until you have an attorney present. At this point, ask the police officer if you are free to leave. If the encounter turns into detainment or an arrest for an alleged crime, continue using your right to remain silent and contact a criminal defense attorney at Corso Law Group as soon as possible to help you exercise your rights.

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