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arrest, in law, seizure and detention of a person, either to bring him before a court body or official, or to otherwise secure the administration of the law. A person may be arrested for an alleged violation of civil or criminal law. Civil arrest is most often used when one has been guilty of civil contempt of court; but in some states of the United States it is also allowed in cases where it is feared the defendant may attempt to flee the court's jurisdiction or otherwise frustrate justice. Arrest is ordinarily accomplished by a warrant issued by a court or officer of justice. In civil arrest a warrant must always be issued and generally anyone named may not be apprehended on Sundays or legal holidays. There are no time restrictions on making a criminal arrest. Any person may make such an arrest without a warrant if a felony is committed in his presence; this is the so-called citizen's arrest. An officer of the law does not always need a warrant to arrest someone if he reasonably suspects that person on the basis of facts or circumstances of having recently committed a felony. In all other criminal cases there must be a warrant before the arrest. Force may be used in making an arrest, even to the extent of killing a person who resists arrest for a felony that endangers human life. If an arrest is contrary to law, the apprehended person may procure his release by habeas corpus and may bring a civil suit for false imprisonment. In most cases the person detained may be released if he can post bail. Diplomatic personnel and members of Congress and of state legislatures during legislative sessions are exempt from arrest.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) Deprivation of personal freedom. In the USSR the inviolability of the person of a citizen is guaranteed by the constitution, which decrees that no one can be subjected to arrest without a court decision or the sanction of the procurator (public prosecutor). Arrest—that is, the confinement under guard as the strictest measure of restraint—is resorted to only in cases of crimes for which the penalty of deprivation of freedom is stipulated and only when there is reason to suppose that the accused would otherwise try to escape from the proceedings and the trial, hinder the ascertaining of the truth, or continue his criminal activity. Persons accused of the most serious crimes (Code of Criminal Procedure of the RSFSR, article 96) may be arrested solely because of the dangerousness of the crime. As a rule, persons detained for hooliganism are subject to arrest until the examination of their cases in court. Minors are arrested only in exceptional cases (Code of Criminal Procedure of the RSFSR, article 320).

A suspect may also be arrested. However, if an accusation is not produced within ten days from the moment of arrest, the detainee must be released. Limitations on the period of preventive detention are established by law. The arrested must be freed as soon as the justification for his arrest ceases to exist. Before giving his sanction to an arrest, the procurator must check the evidence for the accusation and the basis for the arrest and, if necessary, personally interrogate the accused. The procurator is obliged to free immediately any person unlawfully deprived of his freedom or held beyond the stipulated period. The short-term detention of a suspect which takes place without the procurator’s sanction is differentiated from arrest.

In a number of cases arrest is a form of punishment. For example, a soldier sentenced to corrective labor can be condemned by the court to arrest and confinement to the guardhouse for a period of up to two months (Criminal Code of the RSFSR, article 34). A fine may not be substituted for an arrest. Arrest can be the sentence imposed by a people’s judge as a form of administrative influence for petty crimes

(for a period of ten to 15 days) and for petty speculation (three to 15 days). Such an arrest does not carry a conviction. Disciplinary arrest can be applied to servicemen in the armed forces of the USSR and other categories of persons in cases stipulated in the disciplinary code. A prison term served as a result of a court conviction which calls for deprivation of freedom is not arrest, but prison confinement.

Arrest as a measure of restraint is provided for in the legal statutes of most countries outside the USSR. In the socialist countries arrest is permitted only in those cases where it is impossible to establish the identity of the detainee at the scene of the crime, when the accused escapes from the government bodies of power, when the seriousness of the crime requires it, and where there is a danger that the accused might hinder the ascertaining of the truth and continue his criminal activity if left at large. Arrest is not permitted in cases of crimes for which a fine has been established by law as a punishment or in cases of criminal proceedings initiated by private persons. A reasoned decision to arrest can be made by the investigating agency or the procurator; but after the indictment is drawn up, a court decision is necessary.

In the legislation of bourgeois states, formal guarantees are proclaimed on the rights of citizens against detention and unfounded arrest. However, these standards are violated not only in practice but also in the acts of executive organs. Thus, in France, for example, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, the investigating judge is required to interrogate a suspect immediately (or within 24 hours at the most). Arrest for a longer period is permitted only by a special decision of the investigating judge. However, in the code itself, alongside the ordinances of judicial policy, there is a provision for the right of unlimited detention of suspects. In England a special court order is required for the arrest of a suspect; if a citizen is held without such an order, he must be brought to court within 24 hours for an interrogation and decision on his arrest.

In the USA, in spite of specific amendments to the constitution forbidding the curtailment of the privileges and rights of citizens, a wide circle of officials has been set up by the legislatures of the individual states, with the power to issue arrest and search warrants. Even the issuance of so-called blank warrants (that is, warrants which do not indicate the name of the person to be arrested) is widely practiced. In several states the police have the power to’ carry out arrests without a warrant.

(2) Attachment of property, the placing of a ban on the disposal of property or monetary holdings. In Soviet civil and criminal law, attachment of property is used as a means of provisional remedy in civil judicial proceedings (Code of Civil Procedure of the RSFSR, articles 133–34), as a means of securing civil claims in a criminal case, and as a means of securing a possible confiscation of property by court order (Code of Criminal Procedure of the RSFSR, article 175). Restraining measures applied with the object of securing the collection of fines, taxes, nontax payments, and so forth are also called attachment of property in Soviet law. Any property may be subject to attachment, with the exception of the basic means of state, cooperative and public organizations, and the property of citizens which represents necessities (Criminal Code of the RSFSR, supplement; Code of Civil Procedure of the RSFSR, article 369, 411–13). The attachment of property is carried out by the investigator, the militia, and the judicial executor by means of an inventory and an appraisal of the property. The attachment of property can be imposed by entrusting it to its owner for safekeeping or by transferring it to some other person or institution for safekeeping. Criminal responsibility is prescribed for the squandering, alienation, or concealment of property subject to attachment and entrusted for safekeeping (Criminal Code of the RSFSR, article 185).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about being arrested?

If one is being arrested in a dream, it could be a reflection of feeling guilty about something one has done or something one would like to do. As a metaphor, it can mean a process that has been cut off prematurely, as in the expression “arrested development.”

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


1. the act of taking a person into custody, esp under lawful authority
2. the act of seizing and holding a ship under lawful authority
3. the state of being held, esp under lawful authority
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005