A person suspected of having committed a criminal offence may be detained. However, the detention has to be carried out lawfully and respecting human rights.

If the police suspect that you have committed an offence, you may be detained. In such situations, you may be kept for a maximum of 48 hours without special permission from a judge. After this time has passed, you must be released or you may be detain longer with the special permission of an investigative judge. 

If you already have the official status of a suspect or of an accused in an offense, you may also be detained. This can happen if the authorities have a reason to ask the judge to take you into custody. In such a case you may be kept for up to 12 hours before being brought to the person directing the proceedings or to the investigative judge. 

You can read more about the exact grounds of detention in the Code of Criminal Procedure

Detention deprives people of their liberty and may cause them to feel particularly helpless and vulnerable. Therefore, the police should not detain people frivolously and without a lawful reason. 

About this Guide

This Guide will explain situations in which you may be detained and how, the basic rights you have when detained, where you will stay and how you must be treated, and what should happen regarding your release. It will also explain how you can complain about issues related to your detention. However, not every restriction of your physical liberty will be considered to be a detention. Read more below.

What is not a detention?

It is important to note that not every restriction of your physical liberty will be considered a detention. For example, you are not considered to have been detained every time you are in a police office. Sometimes you may be invited to help in an investigation and to answer questions, but you can freely leave when you have complied with your lawful duties to cooperate in criminal process. 

Each situation can be very different and therefore, human rights give you some criteria for how to assess whether you really are detained. These are: the manner in which you are detained, the place where you are held, and how long you are held. For example, if you were brought in forcefully, put in a restricted or even isolated area which you can’t leave and which is heavily supervised by the police, it will most likely be considered to be a detention. The detention may also result from a situation where you came to the police station freely and voluntarily. Therefore, it is always important to ask whether you can freely leave. 

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education