The criminal justice system aims 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. These two goals come into conflict with each other most visibly when agents of the state physically take control of private citizens — that is, when they exercise their powers to detain or to arrest.
The book focuses on “street-level” encounters: detentions and arrests that occur in the course of investigating crime and laying charges. The authors explore the initial interaction between agents of the state or others authorized to detain and arrest, and the private citizens whose liberty is interfered with. It is at that point that the balance between societal safety and individual liberty is most keenly in play.
Powers of detention and arrest are discussed from the perspective of their three sources: statutes, the common law, and the Charter