Question:

I got stopped by the police and I asked him if I was arrested and he said “No, you’re detained.” What did he mean by that?

Answer:

A detention is based on the officers’ reasonable suspicion that the person detained may be involved in potential criminal activity. A detention occurs when a “reasonable person” believes he or she is not free to leave police custody. There is no specific maximum time that a detention may be maintained. The officers must actively develop evidence that will lead to the detainee’s arrest or release. If the officer develops enough probable cause to believe that the individual was involved in criminal activity then an arrest is made. The two important things to take from this short explanation are that a detention requires “reasonable suspicion” and an arrest requires “probable cause.” This is a brief explanation in a very intricate conversation.