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The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.



arrest n

[Middle French arest, from arester to stop, seize, arrest, ultimately from Latin ad to, at + restare to stay]
: the restraining and seizure of a person whether or not by physical force by someone acting under authority (as a police officer) in connection with a crime in such a manner that it is reasonable under the circumstances for the person to believe that he or she is not free to leave see also miranda warnings probable cause at cause, warrant compare stop

cit·i·zen's arrest
: an arrest made not by a law officer but by any citizen who derives the authority to arrest from the fact of being a citizen NOTE: Under common law, a citizen may make an arrest for any felony actually committed, or for a breach of the peace committed in his or her presence.

civil arrest
: the arrest and detention of a defendant in a civil suit until he or she posts bail or pays the judgment see also capias ad respondendum NOTE: Civil arrest is restricted or prohibited in most states.

custodial arrest
: an arrest of a person accompanied by or followed by taking the person into custody

false arrest
: an arrest made without legal authority called also unlawful arrest NOTE: If a person is taken into custody, no matter how briefly, a false arrest is also false imprisonment.

pre·text arrest
: the arrest of a person for a minor crime (as a traffic violation) for the real purpose of getting an opportunity to investigate (as through a search) the person's possible involvement in a more serious crime for which there are no lawful grounds to make an arrest called also pretextual arrest

unlawful arrest
: false arrest in this entry

under arrest
: in the condition of being restrained under legal authority

vt : to place under arrest


Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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