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An arrest is the beginning of imprisonment through the execution of an arrest warrant . A person wanted with an arrest warrant is arrested and kept by the authorities for an (open or specified) period of time. There can be many reasons for imprisonment. It is about sovereign action in the area of ​​the judiciary , with the participation of the police also in the area of ​​the executive . Above all, it encroaches on the right to freedom of the person . Arrest must be distinguished (at least in legal terminology ) from other measures: arrest and custody (however, note the double-function measures ).

The legal basis for arrests is the Code of Criminal Procedure , the Penal Code or the Code of Civil Procedure . Arrest warrants are z. B. in Germany by a competent judge or (in the enforcement of sentences ) by the competent Rechtspfleger . Open arrest warrants are published in a wanted book and entered in the data systems of the judiciary and police ( INPOL , SIS and others). The arrest is to be disclosed to the person concerned, e.g. B. by handing over the arrest warrant.

Group of people

Arrests can, depending on the legal nature of

  • Police officers for the purpose of executing a sentence (execution of an open arrest warrant, re-apprehension of escaped prisoners)
  • Correctional officers for the purpose of executing sentences (mostly re-apprehension of escaped prisoners)
  • Bailiffs for the purpose of submitting an affidavit
  • Judicial officers for the purpose of the execution of sentences (execution of an open arrest warrant, re-apprehension of escaped prisoners) with the help of magistrates .


For the purpose of arrest, the above-mentioned persons (except bailiffs) may, depending on the content of the arrest warrant, etc. a. Enter and search apartments (even at night ) and captivate the person you are looking for . The use of direct coercion may be permitted.

Reasons for arrest

Order of pre-trial detention

If the court orders pre- trial detention for one of the reasons stated in the StPO (mostly because of the risk of flight) , an arrest warrant is issued and executed. Pretrial detention is not always ordered at the beginning of a trial, but sometimes also during or directly at the end of the main hearing .

Arrest warrant for the execution of a sentence

If someone who has been legally sentenced to imprisonment does not follow the summons to commence the sentence or if he is in danger of fleeing, the enforcement authority can issue an enforcement arrest warrant in accordance with § 457 StPO issued. The same applies in the event that, if the execution of the fine is unsuccessful, the execution of a substitute custodial sentence is ordered and the convicted person does not comply with the summons to begin the substitute custodial sentence.


An arrest (also of witnesses) can take place on the basis of an arrest warrant for presentation to the court for trial or interrogation or for presentation to the regional court doctor. In the case of small remaining fines and known whereabouts of the convicted person, the issue of an arrest warrant may also be indicated. When weighing up the warrant for arrest and the warrant for a presentation, the principle of proportionality must be observed. In the case of the execution of a fine, after the compulsory detention has been determined and the person has not been placed in custody, a demonstration detention order is also issued.

Detention to secure the main hearing

An arrest can acc. 230 StPO to ensure the presence of the accused at a main hearing . This arrest warrant does not need to be revoked once it has been executed (this is not the case with an arrest warrant according to § 112 StPO), rather an arrest warrant according to § 230 StPO becomes irrelevant at the main hearing (it is simply done).

Main hearing

According to § 127b StPO, an arrest for participation in the main hearing is possible in an accelerated procedure . A decision by the court is required for this.

Escape from captivity

The independent escape from custody is not in itself subject to criminal penalties (provided that no other criminal offenses were committed here or for this).

The arrest of an escaped prisoner by the police is a form of custody . The modalities for apprehending an escaped prisoner are based on the Prison Act.

Enforcement of an affidavit

A bailiff can arrest a suspected insolvent person to take an oath of insurance (formerly: "Oath of disclosure" ) on presentation of an arrest warrant. The only goal is to have the debtor submit a corresponding declaration. This arrest warrant within the meaning of the ZPO is only issued by a judge at the local court at the request of the creditor .

Number of outstanding arrest warrants

In Germany, the number of outstanding arrest warrants between 2007 and 2016 was between a little over 196,000 and just under 140,000. At the end of April 2016, 148,727 arrest warrants were pending.

Web links

Wiktionary: arrest  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Kai Biermann, Paul Blickle, Julian Stahnke, Frida Thurm, Sascha Venohr: 280 days on the run. In: Zeit Online. June 1, 2016, accessed January 12, 2019 .