Learn More About the Difference Between Being Under Arrest and Being Detained for Questioning in the UAE

criminal law


July 26, 2023



| Your comment matters, please click here to rate article!


In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), individuals may find themselves in situations where their freedom is restricted through detention or arrest. While both detention and arrest involve limitations on personal freedom, it is important to understand the differences between these two concepts, particularly in the context of civil and criminal procedures.

The legal framework surrounding personal freedom, arrest, detention, and the rights of individuals are outlined in Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022 under criminal law and Federal Decree-Law No. 42/2022 of Civil Procedure in the UAE. This article aims to provide clarity on the distinctions between detention and arrest in the UAE, focusing on their respective durations, purposes, and legal rights associated with each process.

Detention under Criminal Procedure

Detention for questioning is a temporary measure employed by authorities to gather information or evidence related to a specific incident or investigation. In the UAE, individuals can be detained for a maximum period of 72 hours. This period is divided into 24 hours for initial suspicion and 48 hours before meeting with the prosecution. The purpose of detention for questioning is to assist ongoing investigations or inquiries, allowing authorities to gather necessary evidence and information.

Under Federal Decree-Law No. 38/2022, personal freedom is protected, and no individual can be subjected to arrest, inspection, detention, imprisonment, prevention from travelling, or electronic monitoring unless specified by the law. Detention under remand can be ordered by a Public Prosecution member if there is sufficient evidence and the offence committed is a felony or a misdemeanour punishable by other than a fine. The initial detention period under remand is seven days, with the possibility of renewal for up to 14 days.

The Public Prosecution is responsible for supervising penal institutions and places of detention under remand. If the interest of the investigation necessitates extending the detention beyond the specified periods, the Public Prosecution must present the lawsuit file to a judge of the competent Criminal Court. The judge will then examine the case, including the defendant's statements, and decide whether to extend the detention for a maximum period of 30 days, with the possibility of renewal.

The rights of the detainee are emphasized under the law. While contact with other detainees may be restricted, the defendant has the right to always contact their lawyer in private. The detainee may also file a grievance against an order issued to extend the detention within a specified timeframe.

Arrest under Criminal Procedure

Arrest in criminal cases is the act of taking a person into custody by a law enforcement officer or authority to ensure their appearance before the competent authorities and prevent them from escaping or committing further offences. Law enforcement officers are authorized to order the arrest of a defendant when there is sufficient evidence that the individual has committed a crime.

Arrests can be made in various cases, including felonies and misdemeanours punishable by penalties other than fines. If the defendant is not present, a law enforcement officer may issue a warrant for their arrest and detention. The arrested person shall be brought before the relevant authority within a reasonable time frame.

After the arrest, the law enforcement officer must inform the defendant of the crime attributed to them and their right to remain silent. The defendant shall be sent within forty-eight hours to the competent Public Prosecution for further proceedings. A person who is arrested shall be brought before a judge within forty-eight hours of their arrest. The judge has the authority to order the release or detention of the arrested person pending trial.

Detention under Civil Procedure:

 Detention under Civil Procedure in the UAE aims to enforce court orders and judgments by allowing the detention of debtors who fail to meet their financial obligations. Debtors can be detained if they abstain from enforcing a writ of execution without proving insolvency or engage in actions like asset smuggling or concealment.

The initial detention period is one month, with the possibility of renewal for up to six consecutive months. Exceptions exist for debtors under 18 or over 70 years old, those with dependent children, and debtors providing bank guarantees or solvent sureties. During detention, a summary investigation can be conducted, and debtors may be granted up to six months to repay the debt in instalments. Legal representatives of private juristic persons can also be detained, and travel restrictions may be imposed.

Arrest under Civil Procedure

 Arrest in civil cases is governed by Federal Decree-Law No. 42/2022 of Civil Procedure. If a misdemeanour involving aggression against the court panel, false testimony, or any other crime punishable by law is committed during trial sessions, the court has the authority to order the arrest of the perpetrator. The arrested individual is then referred to the public prosecution to initiate the necessary legal actions against them.

Individuals have the right to file a grievance against the decision to issue an arrest warrant or the refusal to order one. The grievance should be filed within seven days from the issuance of the decision or from the date of notification. The judge responsible for reviewing the grievance will issue a decision to either cancel or modify the contested decision.


 In the UAE, detention and arrest serve different purposes and are governed by separate legal frameworks in both civil and criminal procedures. Detention under the criminal procedure is primarily used for questioning, investigation, and gathering evidence, while arrest aims to ensure the appearance of the defendant before the competent authorities and prevent further offences.

The specific procedures and rights associated with detention, bail, and civil judgments may vary based on the circumstances, the applicable laws, and the court's discretion. Individuals need to understand their rights and legal protections when faced with detention or arrest in the UAE.

Related Links

Copyright © of this article is retained by the author and/or other copyright owners. We explicitly grant you permission to download a copy, without any alteration, of this article for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or any charge. This article can be utilized on your website or for marketing, however, we grant you permission to host this article on your website and no other rights. This content should not be altered in any way or sold commercially in any format without prior permission of the copyright holder. During reference of this article, full biographic details entailing the name of the author, his designation, the institute and the publishing date of the article shall be provided.


No comments found.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to know more?
Then talk to us.

Client Testimonials

I owe the success of my case to Dr. Hassan's diligent approach. He remained focused, put me at ease and always went the extra mile. Dr. Hassan tirelessly put my case in the best possible light and I cannot thank him enough. I would highly recommend Dr. Hassan - I am grateful to him from the bottom of my heart.

Raphael Lauria
Manager, FME General Trading

Dr. Hassan Elhais is among the best legal consultants I have ever worked with. He has an amazing ability to reduce complex issues into a simple concept that non-legal people can understand. He consistently develops innovative litigation strategies that help us to achieve our ultimate legal goals.

Zhuo Liu

...the extraordinary effort that has been exerted by the staff, and we specially thank Dr. Hassan Mohsen Alhais. Wishing your continues success & excellence...

H.H. Sheikh Saeed Bin
Mohammed Hashir Al Maktoum

I believe everyone should recognize what a difference Dr. Hassan Elhais work has made to people's lives; and especially to our family's life, because we will remain forever grateful to each and every one of his team.

Luis Pozueco

Dr. Hassan Elhais never fears cases that involve exposure and he always gives me his honest assessment of our chances of success, which is invaluable to me.

Bassam Yamout
Director, JM Metal Trading LCC

He aided us not only in providing legal advice but also in all legal issues that required a long term strategic approach to achieve most favorable and optimum outcomes he provided us with high level of professional service.

Philippe Delbecq

Dr. Hassan Elhais is a responsible, reputable counsel who operates to high levels of service.

British Client

Dr Hassan Elhais is responsive, thorough and creative with his advice, and is a valued advisor and legal consultant.

Asma Mattar
Manager, Italian Style

Regardless of the complexity of the matter I know Dr. Hassan Elhais will consider not only legal strategy but also business practicalities in providing advice and litigation options.

Dr. Massimo Hakim
Chairman, Italian Style

I recommend Dr. Hassan Elhais to anyone who says 'I'm in legal trouble'. I was extremely satisfied with the high standard of his work. He has always been there when I have needed him and I refer all my clients, family and friends to him/his firm.

Manish Gupta
Marketing Manager, Express Digital System

Dr. Hassan Elhais was very professional and he listened to my needs. He was very prompt, efficient and always kept me informed. Dr. Hassan Elhais's service was excellent and I would definitely recommend him to friends and colleagues.

James Horsley
British Client

Select your Language:


Main Menu