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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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
The statement called on concerned Law enforcement agencies keeping such detention facilities to cooperate with the NHRC Monitors, adding that this is a requirement to fulfil Nigeria's international human rights obligation which is aimed at improving the advancement of promotion and protection of human rights in Nigeria.
Srinagar -- In occupied Kashmir, every other day, the High Court quashes three to four detentions under black law, Public Safety Act, yet the detainees are not released and are, instead, detained again under PSA without even any new charges pressed against them.
He said the Punjab government had also moved an application before the Federal Review Board (FRB) over the detention of his clients.
According to international law, administrative detention can be used only in the most exceptional cases, as the last means available for preventing danger that cannot be thwarted by less harmful means, according to B'Tselem -- The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
Common themes include the way that detention facilities and indeterminate detention have been employed by some governments as a kind of "reserve army" of enforcement to meet new challenges.
However, the children may still be sent to the offshore detention centers in Nauru if the government rejects their applications.
Person/s who are not formally arrested but are invited for questioning are also considered 'in detention,' the DOJ circular stated as it defines detention as the curtailment of a person's liberty.
"In short, once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued," Johnson said in a statement.
"The detainees are very aggressive, they are insulting the officers, working in the detention center.
The court also expressed dissatisfaction over the record and observed that the reasons cited by the government for the petitioners detention were not enough.
For the first time in a long time, immigration detention is getting the scrutiny it deserves.
As community members that work closely with immigration detainees, we believe electronic monitoring is not a just alternative to immigrant detention. Sanctioning electronic monitoring assumes that there is a rational and legitimate reason for someone to be under surveillance.