A person suspected of having committed a criminal offence may be arrested and detained. However, the arrest and detention has to be carried out lawfully and respecting human rights.

The Bulgarian law does not use clear terminology to distinguish between arrest and detention. Here by arrest we mean the initial physical restraint of a person by the police and the subsequent bringing of the arrested person in police custody for 24 hours. In law, this is an administrative measure. By detention we mean placement of a person who is formally charged with having committed a criminal offense in custody by a decision of a prosecutor, as well as the subsequent decision of a court to remand such person in custody pending trial (pre-trial detention).

A person may be arrested if there is data that he/she has committed a criminal offence. In Bulgaria this arrest is regulated by the Ministry of Interior Act. The police can arrest and keep you in custody for a maximum of 24 hours. After this time has passed, they must release you or present your case to the prosecutor who can formally charge you with having committed a criminal offense and detain you for another 72 hours before you are presented to a court. The latter may release you, may impose on you a measure of restraint as a guarantee that you appear for the criminal proceedings or may detain you on remand. The powers of the prosecutor and the court to detain you are regulated by the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Arrest, Detention & Human rights

Human rights protect the right to liberty and security of a person. Therefore, unlawful and arbitrary arrest and detention are prohibited. It means that the police and the prosecutor need to have a lawful reason to arrest and detain you, rely on specific facts justifying the arrest or detention and that detention must be proportionate to the aim sought to be achieved. They also need to follow clearly set procedures and must not treat you disrespectfully. During arrest and detention, such human rights as the right to liberty and security, the right to a fair trial, the right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment, or torture and the right to private life may be affected.

About this Guide

This Guide will explain situations in which you can be arrested and detained, the procedure that should be followed, how you should be treated and what human rights violations may occur in particular situations during the process.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education