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The act of keeping back, restraining, or withholding, either accidentally or by design, a person or thing.

Detention occurs whenever a police officer accosts an individual and restrains his or her freedom to walk away, or approaches and questions an individual, or stops an individual suspected of being personally involved in criminal activity. Such a detention is not a formal arrest. Physical restraint is not an essential element of detention.

Detention is also an element of the tort of False Imprisonment.


noun arrest, captivity, circumscription, committal, commitment, confinement, constraint, control, custodia, custodianship, custody, detainment, durance vile, fetter, guardianship, immuration, immurement, imprisonment, incarceration, internment, keeping, keeping back, keeping in, keeping in custody, legal reetraint, limitation, preventive custody, prison, protective custody, quarantine, restraint, restriction, restriction on movement
Associated concepts: detention facility, detention of property, illegal detention, lawful detention, preventive detention
Foreign phrases: Furtum non est ubi initium habet detennionis per dominium rei.It is not theft where the commencement of the detention arises through the consent of the owner.
See also: apprehension, bar, bondage, captivity, check, commitment, constraint, custody, delay, durance, fetter, halt, hindrance, imprisonment, incarceration, restraint


holding a person against his will. Normally this is a tort or delict, but certain statutes authorize the police and other authorities to do this. For example, in the immigration law a person may be detained on arrival into the UK, for administrative removal or following a deportation decision. If an appeal has been lodged against a deportation order, the appellant maybe detained pending the hearing of the appeal.

DETENTION. The act of retaining a person or property, and preventing the removal of such person or property.
     2. The detention may be occasioned by accidents, as, the detention of a ship by calms, or by ice; or it may, be hostile, as the detention of persons or ships in a foreign country, by order of the government. In general, the detention of a ship does not change the nature of the contract, and therefore, sailors will be entitled to their wages during the time of the detention. 1 Bell's Com. 517, 519, 5th ed.; Mackel. Man. Sec. 210.
     3. A detention is legal when the party has a right to the property, and has come lawfully into possession. It is illegal when the taking was unlawful, as is the case of forcible entry and detainer, although the party may have a right of possession; but, in some, cases, the (retention may be lawful, although the taking may have been unlawful. 3 Penn. St. R. 20. When the taking was legal, the detention may be illegal; as, if one borrow a horse, to ride from A to B, and afterwards detain him from the owner, After demand, such detention is unlawful, and the owner may either retake his property, or have an action of replevin or detinue. 1 Chit. Pr. 135. In some cases, the detention becomes criminal although the taking was lawful, as in embezzlement.

References in classic literature ?
It was the gentleman Clennam had seen on the night of his own accidental detention there, who had that impalpable grievance about the misappropriated Fund on which the Marshal was supposed to batten.
Kit stood as one entranced, with his eyes opened wide and fixed upon the ground, regardless alike of the tremulous hold which Mr Brass maintained on one side of his cravat, and of the firmer grasp of Miss Sally upon the other; although this latter detention was in itself no small inconvenience, as that fascinating woman, besides screwing her knuckles inconveniently into his throat from time to time, had fastened upon him in the first instance with so tight a grip that even in the disorder and distraction of his thoughts he could not divest himself of an uneasy sense of choking.
As regards vulnerable people, there is no systematic screening to identify them in the Canadian detention estate, and CBSA facilities do not offer any type of counselling services.
Ian Rintoul, a spokesman for the private Refugee Action Coalition, said the women and their husbands, who had spent 15 months in detention on Nauru, were demanding accommodation in the community rather than at the detention center.
The use of preventive detention has grown rapidly in the United States in recent years and, writes Corrado, there has been little basis established in theory or constitutional jurisprudence for limits to this expanding practice, unlike detention as punishment.
Sheikh Al Atrash was visited by the ICRC in the framework of detention visits carried out in the country.
Applications in connection with meeting of 20 detained persons with their family members have been kept ready but possibility of any meeting stands ruled out during the 3 days of Eid due to lack of interest by the administration of detention centers.
The school texted parents during the Easter break saying that children would receive a detention if they failed to bring: ?
BALTIMORE, March 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The new Karnes County Civil Detention Center is a step forward in terms of the treatment of immigrant detainees, but alternatives to detention would be more humane and save taxpayers more money, say representatives of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) who toured the new facility on Tuesday.
He was also upset as his request to be transferred from Al Foqaa detention centre to the Bur Dubai detention centre was denied.
Prosecutors accused the defendants, two Emiratis and a 38-year-old man who was not carrying a personal identification document, of writing a threat to a Yemeni policeman to burn the detention centre if they were not moved to another detention centre.
The mental health of immigration detainees can't wait until the political debate over the appropriateness of immigration detention has been resolved.