Legal Dictionary

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Custody

Custody is defined as a circumstance in which a suspect is deprived of his freedom in any significant way or is led to believe, as a reasonable person would be, that he or she has been so deprived. When the police take someone into custody, the person must be advised of his or her constitutional rights (“Miranda Rights”) prior to any kind of interrogation.

For the purposes of Miranda, custody means that the subject / suspect has been formally arrested or a restraint on his or her freedom of movement has occurred to a degree associated with a formal arrest. Custody can also mean to take immediate possession and control of it. For example, if the police discover a stolen piece of art in an airport locker, they will take custody of it.