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Lucy Parsons after her arrest for rioting during an unemployment protest at Hull House in Chicago, Illinois. 1915

An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the investigation and prevention of crime or harm to others and oneself as well. The term is Anglo-Norman in origin and is related to the French word arrêt, meaning "stop".

The word 'arrest' when used in its ordinary and natural sense, means the apprehension or restraint of a person, or the deprivation of a person's liberty. The question whether the person is under arrest or not depends not on the legality of the arrest, but on whether the person has been deprived of personal liberty of movement. When used in the legal sense in the procedure connected with criminal offenses, an arrest consists in the taking into custody of another person under authority empowered by law, to be held or detained to answer a criminal charge or to prevent the commission of a criminal offense. The essential elements to constitute an arrest in the above sense are that there must be an intent to arrest under the authority, accompanied by a seizure or detention of the person in the manner known to law, which is so understood by the person arrested. (Para 46 of Directorate of Enforcement v. Deepak Mahajan (1994)3 SCC 440)

Police and various other bodies have powers of arrest. In some places the power is more general; for example in England and Wales—with the notable exception of the Monarch, the head of state—any civilian can arrest "anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an indictable offence"[1], although people who are not members of the police or a similar body are not protected against the legal consequences of a wrongful arrest.



The word "Arrest" is Anglo-Norman in origin, derived from the French word 'Arreter' meaning 'to stop or stay' and signifies a restraint of a person. Lexicologically, the meaning of the word arrest is given in various dictionaries depending upon the circumstances in which word is used. There are numerous slang terms for being arrested throughout the world. In British slang terminology, the term "nicked" is often synonymous with being arrested, and "nick" can also refer to a police station, and the term "pinched" is also common.[2] In the United States and France the term "collared" is sometimes used.[3] The term "lifted" is also heard on occasion.[4]


United States

For suspected serious crimes, the police typically handcuff an arrested person, who will be held in a police station or jail pending a judicial bail determination or an arraignment.

England and Wales

In English law, whether a person has been arrested does not depend on the legal authority of the person enforcing the arrest, rather it depends upon whether he has been deprived of his liberty to go where he pleases.[5] Whether an arrest is lawful depends on whether the police officer or civilian exercising the arrest is acting within the scope of her or his powers.

Upon arrest, a person must ordinarily be taken to a police station as soon as is practicable,[6] but may be released on bail.

Powers of arrest

United Kingdom

England and Wales

Arrests under English law fall into two general categories - with and without a warrant - and then into more specific subcategories. Regardless of what power a person is arrested under, they must be informed:[7]

  • that they are under arrest (as soon as is practicable after the arrest), and
  • of the ground for the arrest (at the time of, or as soon as is practicable after, the arrest),

otherwise, the arrest is unlawful.[7]

Arrest with a warrant

A justice of the peace can issue warrants to arrest suspects and witnesses.

Arrest without a warrant

There are four subcategories of arrest without warrant:

Warnings on arrest

United States

A Miranda warning is required only when a person has been taken into custody (i.e. is not free to leave) and is being interrogated. This warning tells the detainee that they have the right to be silent, the right to have counsel present during questioning, and warns them that whatever they say can be used against them. There is no requirement that a detainee be given a Miranda upon arrest.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom a person must be told that he is under arrest,[8] and "told in simple, non-technical language that he could understand, the essential legal and factual grounds for his arrest".[9] A person must be 'cautioned' when being arrested unless this is impractical due to the behaviour of the arrestee i.e. violence or drunkenness. The caution required in England and Wales states,
You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.[10]

Deviation from this accepted form is permitted provided that the same information is conveyed.

Search on arrest

United Kingdom

England and Wales

Non-criminal arrests

United States

Breach of a court order can be civil contempt of court, and a warrant for the person's arrest may be issued. Some court orders contain authority for a police officer to make an arrest without further order.

If a legislature lacks a quorum, many jurisdictions allow the members present the power to order a call of the house, which orders the arrest of the members who are not present. A member arrested is brought to the body's chamber to achieve a quorum. The member arrested does not face prosecution, but may be required to pay a fine to the legislative body.

Only human beings can be arrested; objects may be confiscated or forfeited.

Following arrest

While an arrest will not necessarily lead to a criminal conviction, it may nonetheless in some jusrisdictions have serious ramifications such as absence from work, social stigma, and in some cases, the legal obligation to disclose an arrest when a person applies for a job, a loan or a professional license. In the US, a person who was not found guilty after an arrest can remove his arrest record through an expungement or Finding of Factual Innocence. A legal action is sometimes filed against the government for wrongful arrest.

These collateral consequences are more severe in the United States than in the UK, where arrests without conviction do not appear in standard criminal record checks and need not be disclosed.

See also


  1. ^ section 24a, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  2. ^ Partridge, Eric and Paul BealeA dictionary of slang and unconventional English, p. 790, 886.
  3. ^ Hérail, René James and Edwin A. Lovatt, Dictionary of Modern Colloquial French, p. 194.
  4. ^ Partridge, Eric and Paul BealeA dictionary of slang and unconventional English, p. 681.
  5. ^ Lewis v Chief Constable of the South Wales Constabulary [1991] 1 All ER 206.
  6. ^ Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, section 30.
  7. ^ a b section 28, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
  8. ^ Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, section 28.
  9. ^ Taylor v Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police 2004 EWCA Civ 858.
  10. ^ Code C to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, para. 10.5.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



A suspect being arrested, as in most countries handcuffed with the arms on the back



From Old French arester (to stay, stop), from Vulgar Latin *arrestare, from Latin ad- (to) + restare (to stop, remain behind, stay back), from re- (back) + stare (to stand), from PIE base *sta- (to stand) (see Latin stet).




arrest (plural arrests)

  1. A check, stop, an act or instance of arresting something
  2. The condition of being stopped, standstill.
  3. (law) The act of arresting a criminal, suspect etc.
  4. A confinement, detention, as after an arrest
  5. A device to physically arrest motion

Derived terms


to be checked again, by meaning


to arrest

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to arrest (third-person singular simple present arrests, present participle arresting, simple past and past participle arrested)

  1. To stop
  2. To seize
    • 1919: P. G. Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves, page ?
      There is something about this picture—something bold and vigorous, which arrests the attention. I feel sure it would be highly popular.
    • 1997: Chris Horrocks, Introducing Foucault, page 69 (Totem Books, Icon Books; ISBN 1840460865)
      I’m using mathesis — a universal science of measurement and order
      And there is also taxinomia a principle of classification and ordered tabulation.
      Knowledge replaced universal resemblance with finite differences. History was arrested and turned into tables …
      Western reason had entered the age of judgement.
  3. To take into legal custody

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.





arrest (plural arresten, diminutive arrestje, diminutive plural arrestjes)

  1. detention, confinement, especially after being arrested

Derived terms

Simple English

An arrest is a procedure by which a person who is thought to have broken the law is taken away into jail so that they can be placed on trial. Arrests are normally performed by the police.

A special type of arrest is a house arrest, where someone is made to stay in their home.

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