Elements of the Crime of Arbitrary Detention

Q1: What are the elements of the crime of arbitrary detention?


  1. The offender is a public officer or employee.
  2. He detains a person.
  3. The detention is without legal grounds.

Q2: When is a person considered in detention?

A2: A person is considered detained when he is placed in confinement or there is restraint on his person.

Q3: Can there be arbitrary detention even if the victims were not kept in an enclosure?

A3: Yes, according to prevailing jurisprudence on kidnapping and illegal detention. The curtailment of the victim’s liberty need not involve physical restraint. If the acts and actuations of the accused can produce such fear in the mind of the victim that it paralyzes the latter, compelling the victim to limit his own actions and movements in accordance with the wishes of the accused, then the victim is, for all intents and purposes, detained against his will. (Benito Astorga v. People, G.R. No. 154130, Oct. 1, 2003)

Q4: When is detention said to be without legal grounds?

A4: Detention is considered without legal grounds when:

  1. The person has not committed any crime or, at least, there is no reasonable ground for suspicion that he has committed a crime. (Exception: A valid warrantless arrest, Sec.5, Rule 113, Revised Rules of Court.)
  2. The person is not suffering from violent insanity or any other ailment requiring compulsory confinement in a hospital.

Q5: Is it necessary for the public officer to be a police officer to be held liable for arbitrary detention?

A5: No. It is important, however, that the public officer must be vested with the authority to detain or order the detention of persons accused of a crime, such as policemen and other agents of law, judges, or mayors.

Note: In arbitrary detention, the offender is a public officer whose functions are related to the protection of life and/or property and the maintenance of peace and order. If someone who arrests another without legal grounds does not have the authority to do so, like a clerk in the Office of the Central Bank Governor, the proper charge is illegal detention, not arbitrary detention.

Q6: Can a barangay chairman be guilty of this crime?

A6: Yes, a barangay chairman can be guilty of arbitrary detention as he has authority, in order to maintain peace and order, to cause the arrest and detention of a person. (Boado, 2008)

Q7: Can private individuals be held liable for arbitrary detention?

A7: Yes, private individuals can be held liable for arbitrary detention if they conspire with public officers.

Q8: What are the legal grounds for the detention of persons without which a public officer may be held liable?


  • GR:
    1. Commission of a crime
    2. Violent insanity or other ailment requiring compulsory confinement of the patient in a hospital
    3. When the person to be arrested is an escaping prisoner
  • XPN: When peace officers acted in good faith, even if the three grounds mentioned above are not obtaining, there is no arbitrary detention.

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