What are the requirements for a lawful detention?

In Estonia, the grounds and procedure for detention are explained in the Code of Criminal Procedure. But it is also important that the police are not using these grounds in the wrong way. For example, if the police knows that you did not commit an offence, but they still want to ‘fish’ for information and therefore detain you. 


To evaluate whether your detention may violate your human rights, namely, your right to liberty and security, you should pay attention to the following requirements:

  • The police must have a reasonable suspicion that you committed an offence. Reasonable suspicion means that the police already have information that would satisfy an objective observer that you may have committed an offence. An objective observer is, for instance, someone who is not related to you and not interested in protecting you. 
  • The police or other appropriate authorities must have the intention to try you for the suspected offence. If they do not have such an intention, they must not detain you. 
  • The detention protocol has to clearly state which ground for detention is being applied in your case and why.
  • The police or other authorities must not trick you into surrendering. For example, they cannot invite you to come to the police station for another reason and then detain you for an offence. 
  • The detention has to be truly necessary. For example, if someone has been caught exactly at the moment of stealing a mobile phone from a shop and this person would run away if not detained and would later be impossible to find. 
  • You must be held in a place that is meant for persons detained on criminal suspicion.  In Estonia, you should be held in specially equipped police premises – in a temporary place of detention.


Last updated 16/07/2017