New Jersey DWI Attorney John Menzel

What Is The Difference Between Being Arrested And Being Detained By Police?


There is a subtle difference between being detained and being arrested by police. One can be detained because the police want to question them. For example, people who witness accidents are commonly detained for questioning about what they observed. When someone has been arrested, their ability to leave the situation is clearly limited; they will be placed in handcuffs and asked to sit in a specific location, such as the back of a police vehicle. Regardless of whether a person has been detained or arrested, they have the right to remain silent and the right to consult with an attorney.

I Was Questioned By The Police At The Station; Were They Allowed To Lie To Me?

The police are permitted to lie to people in order to induce them to confess. The most common pattern of lying occurs when multiple persons have been arrested during a single event. Police may try to persuade an individual that other people have given evidence incriminating the target so that the target is induced to make a confession. While this is permitted, there is some recent case law indicating that the police may not lie to a person about whether or not they are being charged; how that case law develops and how rights evolve remains to be seen. There are only five things the law requires a person to do:

  1. Pull over when they get the signal to do so
  2. Provide driving credentials if they are requested
  3. Get out of the car if ordered out of the car
  4. Submit peacefully to an arrest
  5. Submit breath samples if asked to do so

An individual is not required to submit to the field sobriety tests, which often involve tracing an object with one’s eyes, standing and walking heel to toe, standing on one leg, touching one’s finger to their nose, bending over at the waist, reciting the alphabet, and/or counting backwards. The only test an officer can require without a warrant or a court order is a breath test, which means a person should never consent to providing a blood or urine sample unless the police have proven that they have a warrant to obtain a blood or urine sample.

Oftentimes, the police will become agitated when a person refuses to submit to the balance tests, perhaps because most officers are accustomed to dealing with people who are ignorant of their rights and simply do what is asked. In addition, a person who refuses to submit to field sobriety tests interferes with the officer’s attempt to gain additional information that could justify an arrest and a conviction down the line. While refusing to answer questions without an attorney and refusing to submit to field sobriety tests could cause a judge to infer that the person knew they were guilty, the decision to refuse will ultimately neutralize other adverse inferences and work in the individual’s favor. It can be very difficult to implement this advice because officers often disregard people’s rights; unfortunately, on the street, power trumps individual rights. In the courtroom, however, rights should prevail and a defendant will have a much stronger defense for having remained silent and requesting an attorney.

For more information on Arrest Vs. Detention By Law Enforcement In NJ, a consultation session is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 899-1899 today.

John Menzel, J.D.

Learn your options - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (732) 899-1899

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