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Know Your Rights: What Is The Difference Between Being Detained Vs. Arrested In MA?

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2021 | Criminal Defense, Know Your Rights

Man in handcuffs

Being questioned by law enforcement can be a scary and intimidating experience. It is important to know the difference between being detained and being arrested in Massachusetts so that you know your rights if and when the police question you.

Simply put, being detained by an officer means that the officer has stopped you and briefly questioned you. An officer does not need probable cause to detain a person. An arrest occurs when a police officer has probable cause, restrains the person’s movement, and takes them into custody. However, this is a very elementary explanation of the difference between being detained and being arrested. For further clarification on a particular set of circumstances, it is in your best interest to speak with a Massachusetts attorney that is skilled in criminal defense. 

Reasonable Person Standard

When the courts are faced with having to determine if a person was detained or arrested, they often use the “reasonable person” standard. In other words, the court considers if a reasonable person would, under the circumstances they are considering, believe they were under arrest. If the answer is yes, then in most cases the court will hold that an arrest occurred.

Your Rights When Detained By Massachusetts Law Enforcement

Massachusetts law enforcement may state that they are only detaining a suspect and that they are not under arrest, but they also deny them the right to leave for an extended period of time. In doing so, they are violating the rights of that suspect. Law enforcement does not have the right to detain anyone for a more than a brief period of time if that person is not placed under arrest.

Your Rights When Arrested By Massachusetts Law Enforcement

When you are under arrest, you will not be kept from leaving for longer than a brief question and answer period. You will be told that you are not able to leave on your own accord. Although you should be read your Miranda rights, even if they are not read to you, you may still be considered to be under arrest. There are different legal rules that apply when you have been arrested versus when you have been detained, so it is important to understand the difference. 

Exercise Your Right To Remain Silent

Whether you have been detained or arrested, it is very important to exercise your constitutional right to remain silent when questioned and request an attorney to represent you in this matter. You need someone that understands the Massachusetts criminal justice system, and will fight for you to ensure your rights are not trampled. Attorney Ambar Maceo at Maceolaw, P.C. is a skilled litigator that always steps up for her clients. You may contact her firm at 617-208-0505 or via their contact page. With her help, you can rest assured your rights are protected.