Detain Law and Legal Definition

Detain generally means to prevent from proceeding; to restrict freedom of movement. In criminal law, detain means to hold a person in custody, often for purposes of questioning. A law enforcement officer needs to have a reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity to detain a person. Reasonable suspicion is less than the probable cause needed to arrest a person. The reasonableness of the length of time of detention will depend on the circumstances in each case.