Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Arrest

Quick Summary of Arrest

Seize (someone) by legal authority and take into custody. To arrest someone is to apprehend that person, sometimes forcibly, in order to bring him to answer for criminal charges, or else to prevent an imminently certain ‘breach of the peace’. The term ‘arrest’ is morally neutral; anyone intentionally deprived of his liberty is thereby arrested, whether for good reason or bad. As a consequence, while one might argue whether or not an apprehended party was lawfully arrested, it would be very much incorrect to say (assuming an unlawful arrest) that the apprehended party was never arrested at all.

What is the dictionary definition of Arrest?

Dictionary Definition

A situation in which the police detain a person in a manner that, to any reasonable person, makes it clear she is not free to leave. A person can be “under arrest” even though the police have not announced it; nor are handcuffs or physical restraint necessary. Questioning an arrested person about her involvement in or knowledge of a crime must be preceded by the Miranda warnings if the police intend to use the answers against the person in a criminal case. If the arrested person chooses to remain silent, the questioning must stop.

  1. to take into custody
  2. the act of apprehending (especially apprehending a criminal)
  3. A check, stop, an act or instance of arresting something.
  4. The condition of being stopped, standstill.
  5. legal The process of arresting a criminal, suspect etc.
  • A check, stop, an act or instance of arresting something.
  • The condition of being stopped, standstill.
  • The process of arresting a criminal, suspect etc.
  • A confinement, detention, as after an arrest.
  • A device to physically arrest motion.
  • The judicial detention of a ship to secure a financial claim against its operators.
  • Any seizure by power, physical or otherwise.
  • A scurfiness of the back part of the hind leg of a horse.
  • To stop the motion of (a person or animal).
  • To stay, remain.
  • To stop or slow (a process, course etc.).
  • To seize (someone) with the authority of the law; to take into legal custody.
  • To catch the attention of.

Full Definition of Arrest

v. 1) to take or hold a suspected criminal with legal authority, as by a law enforcement officer. An arrest may be made legally based on a warrant issued by a court after receiving a sworn statement of probable cause to believe there has been a crime committed by this person, for an apparent crime committed in the presence of the arresting officer, or upon probable cause to believe a crime has been committed by that person. Once the arrest has been made, the officer must give the arrestee his/her rights (“Miranda rights”) at the first practical moment, and either cite the person to appear in court or bring him/her in to jail. A person arrested must be brought before a judge for arraignment in a short time (e.g. within two business days), and have his/her bail set. A private “security guard” cannot actually arrest someone except by citizen’s arrest, but can hold someone briefly until a law officer is summoned. A “citizen’s arrest” can be made by any person when a crime has been committed in his/her presence. However, such self-help arrests can lead to lawsuits for “false arrest” if proved to be mistaken, unjustified or involving unnecessary holding. 2) to delay the enforcement of a judgment by a judge while errors in the record are corrected.

An arrest is the process whereby a person is taken into legal custody by a legal authority. You do not have to be handcuffed or physically restrained to be under arrest. You can be arrested if a police officer sees you committing a crime, the officer has probable cause to believe you have committed a crime (evidence needs to exist not just the officer’s hunch), or the police have obtained an arrest warrant from a judge.

After the arrest is the first court appearance, known as the arraignment. At the arraignment the defendant is notified of the charges against them, bail is set, and the court will also notify the defendant of all future proceedings such as the preliminary hearing, pretrial motions and the trial date. Most defendants should talk to a criminal attorney if they have been arrested for a crime. Many criminal lawyers specialize in certain types of crimes. For instance, if you are arrested for drunk driving it is important to talk to a DUI lawyer before making a plea.

Examples of Arrest in a sentence

The police have arrested a suspect in the murder inquiry.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Arrest. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. October 21, 2021
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Arrest. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: October 21, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Arrest. Retrieved October 21, 2021, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Arrest are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 26th April, 2020 | 6 Views.