Detained Vs Arrested in Rhode Island

Detained Vs Arrested in Rhode Island

As an RI criminal defense attorney with 25+ years of experience, one of the questions John E. MacDonald hears most often is, “What’s the difference between being detained vs arrested in Rhode Island?”

There are several key differences between these two—such as how long you can be held in custody, your rights during the process, and the impact on your criminal record. Keep reading to understand what these terms really mean and the best course of action in either situation.

What is the Legal Definition of Being Detained in Rhode Island?

Per R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-7-1, the legal definition of being detained in Rhode Island is:

“A peace officer may detain any person abroad whom he or she has reason to suspect is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime, and may demand of the person his or her name, address, business abroad, and destination.”

Said another way, being detained means a law enforcement official suspects you have been, are, or will soon be involved with a crime, and stops you to ask for further information.

Are You Entitled to a Lawyer When You Are Detained in Rhode Island?

Yes, you’re entitled to a lawyer when you’re detained in Rhode Island per the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This is one of the few things that’s the same between being detained vs arrested in Rhode Island.

Said another way, if the police have taken you into custody, then you have the right to an attorney—even though you haven’t been formally arrested yet.

The Requirements for Lawful Detention

If an officer wants to detain you, they’re required to have reasonable suspicion first. This gives them a legally justifiable reason for stopping you.

They can also legally ask for identifying info. If you refuse to answer their questions, the officer has the right to further detain, question, and investigate you.

The Reason for a Detention

You may find yourself detained if an officer suspects that you are recently, currently, or soon to be involved in committing a crime. When this happens, the officer will typically stop you and ask about where you’re coming from, where you’re going, or what you’re doing at the moment.

The purpose of this process is to help the officer decide whether to let you go, ask further questions, or formally arrest you. The officer also has the right to search you for a weapon under R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-7-2.

The Length of a Detention

Because a detention is temporary, Rhode Island law limits how long you can be detained. An officer can only detain you for a maximum of two hours.

At this point, you must either be released or formally arrested and charged with a crime.

Miranda Rights and Detention

During a detention in Rhode Island, law enforcement officials aren’t required to read you your Miranda rights. These only come into play during a custodial interrogation, which happens after you’re formally arrested.

Potential Outcomes Following Detention

You’ll encounter one of two outcomes following your detention, depending on what the officer learns from speaking with you.

If they don’t find any probable cause that a crime has been—or soon will be—committed, they’ll have to release you. When this happens, the detention doesn’t appear anywhere on your criminal record.

However, if probable cause is discovered during the conversation, the officer will formally arrest and charge you. These charges would appear on your criminal record and background checks if you’re convicted.

How Does Rhode Island Law Define an Arrest?

Per R.I. Gen. Laws § 12-7-7, Rhode Island law defines an arrest as:

“Made by the restraint of the person to be arrested or by his or her submission of his or her person to the custody of the person making the arrest.”

In plain English, being arrested in Rhode Island means being taken into police custody. An arrest can occur in several different scenarios, such as during a traffic stop, through the execution of a warrant, or as a result of being caught while committing a crime.

The Requirements for Legal Arrest

If an officer wants to arrest you, they need to have probable cause first. This provides the legally necessary foundation to take you into custody and question you.

But what constitutes probable cause? An officer must have either a reasonable belief/ground that a crime has been committed, or find evidence of a crime during a search.

The importance of probable cause can’t be overstated here. In cases without probable cause, getting your charges dismissed becomes far more likely.

As your highly experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive Rhode Island criminal defense attorney, one of the first things John E. MacDonald will investigate in your case is whether probable cause existed for your arrest.

Call the Law Office of John E. MacDonald now at 401.421.1440 to learn more about getting your charges dismissed.

The Reason for an Arrest

You’ll be arrested if you’ve allegedly committed or tried to commit any kind of crime. An arrest is the first step in determining guilt and ultimately preventing the criminal from committing further offenses.

At the same time, you have a Constitutional right to be aware of the charges against you, defend yourself at a public trial, and work with an attorney, according to the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Length of an Arrest

When it comes to being detained vs arrested in Rhode Island, one of the biggest differences is the duration. While a detention can last a maximum of two hours, an arrest is more long-term.

Depending on the nature of your alleged crime and your criminal record, you may stay in police custody up through your trial. In other cases, you’ll be arrested, charged, arraigned, and released on bail within a fairly short period.

Miranda Rights and Arrest

Police officers aren’t legally required to inform you of your Miranda rights at the moment of your arrest. This is only necessary if they plan to question or interrogate you. At this point, you’ll be informed of your right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present.

Potential Outcomes Following Arrest

After you’re arrested, you’re taken to the local police station for booking. This means recording personal information like your name, identifying details, fingerprints, and photographs. All of this goes into their database.

You’re then held in jail and, if the charges against you are determined to be valid, you’ll continue through the legal process. The arrest becomes part of your criminal record.

How Does Being Detained or Arrested in Rhode Island Affect Your Criminal Record?

Being detained and released in Rhode Island won’t appear on your criminal record, while an arrest—even if you ultimately aren’t convicted—typically does.

The only way to remove past arrests and convictions from the public eye is by seeking expungement of your record, which not everyone qualifies for.  

An Aggressive, Experienced Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help Protect Your Freedom

Now you know the key differences between being detained vs arrested in Rhode Island. But this doesn’t change the fact that getting arrested can turn your life upside down in the blink of an eye. Even worse, everything you do and say during this stressful, overwhelming experience can be used against you in court.

That’s why the moment a police officer begins questioning you, the best thing to say is, “I’d like to speak with my lawyer.”

The earlier you hire an aggressive, experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney like John E. MacDonald, the sooner he can start protecting your rights and fighting for your freedom. Call 401.421.1440 now for your free consultation.