What are the Four Elements of Arrest?

What are the Four Elements of Arrest?

A person gets arrested when he/she is taken into custody for either committing a crime or being suspected of doing one. An officer cannot merely put you “under arrest”, there are certain procedures to follow. Let’s know What are the Four Elements of Arrest?

An arrest is usually done for the following purposes: 

• To lay charges

• To preserve evidence

• To prevent crime, or

• Under section 135 or section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

When you are arrested, you have three basic rights. You get to ask for legal advice from your lawyer or by the one appointed for you for free, you get to ask the police to inform someone that you have been arrested, and look at the police codes in practice. 

An officer cannot just simply put someone under arrest because he wants to as this would cause chaos and bring injustice to the world. The US criminal justice has therefore put forward a set of methods to help prevent this. 

The Constitution and the government first make sure that an arrest has been made on the premise of the four components are called ‘the four elements of arrest’ which are Intent Authority, Seizure or Detention and, The Understanding.

The Four Elements Of Arrest

Any arrest involves these 4 elements:

1. Intent to arrest:

It is the key element of arrest. A person can be taken into custody when another person gives a complaint or notices that he/she is doing something that is frowned upon 

The intent is usually a verbal document that gives enough certainty that what a person is doing is wrong and action needs to be taken.

The intent is a decision that brings a prohibited circumstance. Someone intends to do something with a cause that he might not recognize. The intent can either be spontaneous or thought out. Once you know the intentions of a person, you can justify his/her actions according to the law.

2. Authority to arrest:

Authority of arrest, also known as the power of arrest, is the approval given by a central authority to take necessary action over a criminal or suspected criminal. The same power can also be used to protect a person or property from harm. Mainly, the police and the magistrate have the power to arrest. In the United States, law enforcement officers of various kinds have the authority to arrest people legally. Depending upon the severity of the crime and the urgency of action, different officials of the force will act on it (police, detectives, FBI, Army, etc.). 

3. Seizure or Subjection to arrest:

During the seizure, the police or other authorities who suspect that a person has committed a crime start a search at the person’s property and confiscate evidence relevant to the case.

The individual of interest is detained for questioning. Detention is something like when you get pulled over by an officer for questioning. The suspect isn’t free to leave but also can not be arrested. The suspect gives in to the police (surrenders) and moves forward to the next steps.

4. The understanding:

The person under arrest is informed that he/she is being arrested by the officer telling the words “you are now under arrest” for so and so crime or in extreme cases where the police handcuff the suspect or use aggression. The understanding of the person might be void  if he/she is intoxicated or unconscious.


When a person is put under arrest, he/she is taken into physical confinement by a legal authority. The distrainment of a person is done for legal rights. An arrest can be done with or without a warrant either way. In both, cases four elements of arrest are to be followed to ensure the legality of the procedure The four elements include Intent; where the person’s intent is brought into knowledge and is a key element of arrest, Authority; the power of arrest is given to law enforcement officers to take necessary actions for an arrest of a criminal, Seizure, or Detention; the suspect is detained for questioning and his property is searched to find relevant evidence and The Understanding; the person is let to know that he/she is being put under arrest by the officer through words or in severe cases aggression.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the three kinds of arrest?

A: Mainly there are two kinds of arrest 

arrest with a warrant. The person’s arrest is issued by a judge which lets the officers arrest him/her.

Arrest without a warrant: when a person has been caught committing a crime or in possession of something illegal, the police have the right to arrest the individual without a warrant.

2. What are the consequences of an illegal arrest?

A: In the case of an illegal arrest, the police can be sued by the victim in a civil rights lawsuit, which can lead to retrained officers, firing the offending officer etc.

What are the Four Elements of Arrest?

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