What to do if a loved one is detained by the police

A loved one has disappeared. I suspect that he was detained by the police. How to be?

According to the leading lawyer of the European Legal Service Pavel Kokorev, close relatives can call the duty unit and try to find out by phone where the person is now. Her contacts must be on the website of the main department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of your region.

This method has vulnerabilities. Firstly, information does not flow into the duty department immediately. In some cases, this process can stretch indefinitely, for example, if detentions occur during mass events . Secondly, the data will get to the duty unit only if the police acted according to the law and executed everything according to the rules.

So, alas, sometimes you have to be creative. For example, if we are talking about mass detentions, you can find out from the news which departments people are being taken to. Then you can ask questions more directly. Another way is to call those with whom your loved one was, they may have information. In addition, you can report a missing person to the police – after all, you only suspect that he could be detained, but you are not sure about it.

Shouldn’t relatives be informed about the detention?

It depends on what case the person is arrested for. If it is criminal, then he has the right to one phone call within three hours after the arrest . He can call relatives or a lawyer. If a person himself does not want to report himself, then this is done by an interrogating officer or an investigator. However, in the interests of the preliminary investigation, the fact of detention may be concealed.

In the case of an administrative case , at the request of the detainee, his relatives or defense counsel must be notified of the incident as soon as possible, but the law does not say which one.

Irrespective of what kind of case we are talking about – a criminal or administrative one – parents or legal representatives must be informed about the detention of a minor.

What should I do if he is detained with me?

Remind the person being detained that, according to Article 51 of the Russian Constitution, he is not required to testify against himself. Also, it’s better not to say anything without a lawyer .

Pavel Kokorev

Leading lawyer of the European Legal Service.

You should not interfere in the process of detention, and even more so try to “beat off” a person. You can film what is happening on video, if possible, standing a little far from what is happening, so as not to provoke law enforcement officers to detain you as well.

If the police unreasonably use force, complain to the hotline of the regional Ministry of Internal Affairs or to the prosecutor’s office. This is where video recording comes in handy. In addition, the very fact of filming can have a disciplinary effect on law enforcement officers.

Sometimes it makes sense to follow the police to the station and see where the detainee is taken.

Now I know for sure that he was detained. Is it for a long time?

As part of a criminal case, a suspect must not be detained for more than 48 hours . After this time, either the court sends him under arrest, or he is released.

In administrative cases, the detention period is 3 hours . It is increased to 48 hours if it is a serious offense like illegal border crossing , or if it is necessary to establish the identity of the detainee, or if the punishment includes administrative arrest.

The period of detention is counted from the moment of delivery to the department. An entry about this should be made in the register of detainees.

If a person was not released on time, he has the right to demand compensation for this through the court. In order to substantiate the fact of unreasonable delay, he will need to collect evidence by all available means, for example, obtain the testimony of witnesses and take their contacts.

What can I do for him at this time?

You will not be allowed to meet with your loved one, but a defender will be allowed to see him. And your task is to ensure his presence.

Pavel Kokorev

Leading lawyer of the European Legal Service.

If the detention was made as part of a pre-investigation check in criminal proceedings, then it is necessary to seek legal assistance from a lawyer. If within the framework of administrative proceedings, then a lawyer without the status of a lawyer is also suitable.

Either way, you need a protector you can trust. Therefore, the most logical way to search is through acquaintances. You can also contact the relevant human rights organization.

Can you give him something?

According to Pavel Kokorev, the parcel can be transferred with the permission of an authorized employee of the body that made the decision to detain. As a rule, each institution has a list of items allowed for transfer. Anything that is not allowed is prohibited.

Much will depend on the employees. Sometimes they can nitpick and skip literally nothing, or turn your products into trash in search of forbidden things. But they can also show loyalty. It’s hard to guess here.

Definitely will not allow the transfer of alcohol and items that can be used as weapons. Perishable food and food in glass packaging will also not be accepted.

Pass foods that don’t need much processing: instant noodles and mashed potatoes, tea and coffee, biscuits, food with a long shelf life. Moreover, you will need to demonstrate that there is nothing forbidden in the transfer. So be prepared to remove the packaging, but still make sure that the products remain usable. For example, if all the sweets have to be unwrapped, they then need to be repackaged somewhere.

Warm clothes and hygiene products will also come in handy.

What about work or study? Should I tell you why the detainee is not at the scene?

Yes, this will help to avoid his illegal dismissal for absenteeism or deductions. However, if a person is detained within the framework of administrative proceedings, he himself can demand in the department that this be reported to work or study.

You can miss work for a good reason. Another thing is whether detention is considered a good reason . Their exact list does not exist. However, practice shows that rather yes. The detainee cannot choose whether to come to work or not, events unfold against his will, which means that the reason for the absence is valid.

Although it is obvious that in different cases what is happening can develop in an unpredictable way. So if the employer still tries to fire a person, he can continue the proceedings in court.

I want to contact the media and write about the incident on social networks. Is it worth it?

Much depends on whether the detainee is guilty of a crime and how strictly the police enforce the laws. For example, if a person has done what he is suspected of, and law enforcement officers behave within the law, then the benefits of publicity are doubtful. But if the cops go over the top , public attention to the issue can help.

For example, journalist Ivan Golunov was detained in 2019 on suspicion of drug trafficking. This was followed by a wave of mass actions in his support. As a result, Golunov was released , and the police officers involved are accused of falsifying a criminal case.

Quite often, public outcry matters in self-defense cases. So do not underestimate the indifference of others.

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