AuthorSteve Coughlan/Glen Luther
ProfessionProfessor, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University/Associate Professor, College of Law, University of Saskatchewan
The central goal of a proper criminal justice system must be to maintain
a balance between the individual interest of private citizens to carry on
their lives free from state interference and the communal interest in
maintaining a safe society. One of the most visible ways in which those
two goals come into conf‌lict with each other is when agents of the state
physically take control of private citizens that is, when they exercise
their powers to detain or to arrest.
Powers to detain and arrest arise at a number of points in the crim-
inal justice system and, indeed, outside it. Travellers arriving in the
country are detained at customs. Motorists can be detained for a variety
of purposes, ranging from checking the mechanical f‌itness of the vehicle
to determining the blood-alcohol level of the driver. Someone accused of
an oence might be detained pending trial or to be assessed to determine
f‌itness to stand trial or might be detained afterward, whether pursuant
to a sentence, following a f‌inding of not being criminally responsible,
or for having been found to be a dangerous oender. Statutory schemes
authorize detention for immigration, deportation, or security-related
reasons. The police might arrest a person in order to charge them with
an oence, at a later stage if a surety for the accused’s bail withdraws or
on a bench warrant if the accused fails to appear for trial. An absconding
witness is subject to being arrested.
This book does not attempt to deal with all situations in which deten-
tions or arrests occur. Its focus is on “street-level” encounters, detentions
and arrests that occur in the course of investigating crime and laying

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