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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.
According to the AIC, administrative detentions violate Article (66) of Geneva Convention IV, which demands that trials should be held in the occupied territory, as well as Article (71) which states that the use of private courts of the occupying power should only take place after a legal trial.
In June, Israel doubled the number of administrative detentions within the first 10 days of an arrest campaign following the disappearance of three Israeli youths.
ISLAMABAD -- Amnesty International urging the Indian authorities to repeal the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) has called for an end to the practice of keeping the Kashmiris particularly the youth in unlawful detentions by the police in defiance of judicial orders for their release.
It's unnecessary to give out detentions for something silly like forgetting a sharpener or a ruler.
In particular, they asked the US and Afghanistan to enter into a public agreement that spells out grounds and procedures for US detentions that are consistent with international and Afghan law.
The Department of State, therefore, does not consider brief routine detentions such as for traffic violations or accident investigations to be the type of situation contemplated by the [Vienna Convention].
He has done so in four key areas: in the Iraq War, in detentions here at home and abroad, in the torture scandal, and in the NSA warrantless spying program.
The significance of the post-September 11 period--the round-ups, secret detentions, registration of Muslim males and raids within immigrant communities--all of the new policies and practices of the war on terror take on deeper meaning when considered against the backdrop of immigration and race politics within the last two decades.
According to the court, a reasonable official would know that detentions of less than 38 days violated a state criminal procedural rule and the constitutional rights of the arrestee.
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe opined in a July 1 Wall Street Journal op-ed that "the transparency these opinions demand as a hallmark of defensible detention could not be further from the spirit of secrecy that the administration's briefs and arguments insist is an indispensable element of intelligence-gathering detentions.