Arrested, Detained, or Consensual Encounter?

Just because the police stop and talk to you does not mean that they have to read you your (Miranda) Rights. In general terms, there are 3 types of police interactions: An Arrest, a Detention (also called an investigatory stop), and a Consensual Encounter.

What is an Arrest? 

An arrest is when the police either uses their authority to prevent you from leaving or physically restrains you. Police need PC (probable cause) that a crime has been committed and you committed that crime in order to arrest you.

What is a Detention or Investigatory Stop? 

This is when the police stop you to investigate whether a crime has occurred. Police must have Reasonable Suspicion in order to stop you. The reasonable suspicion must be well founded. More than the proverbial “hunch”. 

What is A Consensual Encounter?

Consensual encounters are deemed less intrusive than the arrest or the detention. It doesn’t mean that officers won’t ask you potential incriminating questions, it simply means you are typically free to go. Because you are “free to go” most of the constitutional protections are not implicated. Meaning, the police generally don’t have to read you your (Miranda) rights. 

The Police can, and do, use the consensual encounter to establish probable cause for an arrest. The more you talk, the more they have. 

It all comes down to whether a reasonable person felt they were free to leave the encounter without answering any questions.

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