Difference Between Judicial Custody and Police Custody

In Judicial Custody, a person is held in custody by the order of a judicial authority, a judge, after being formally charged with a crime. This happens after a person has been arrested by the police and presented before a court.

Police Custody refers to the period during which a person is held by the police for questioning or investigation before being presented before a court.

In Police Custody, the individual’s rights are protected under laws and regulations, but the duration of custody is shorter compared to Judicial Custody.

Judicial Custody vs Police Custody

Comparison Chart

Parameter of ComparisonJudicial CustodyPolice Custody
Who Decides Custody?MagistratePolice Officer
Reason for CustodyAwaiting Trial or SentencingInvestigation
LocationJailPolice Station Lockup
DurationVaries depending on the case (up to 90 days with extensions)Maximum 15 days (can be shorter)
Access to Legal CounselGuaranteedNot guaranteed, but can be requested
InterrogationLimited; requires permission from MagistrateAllowed for investigation purposes
BailCan be applied for at any timeCan be applied for, but less likely to be granted
Rights of the AccusedMore rights and protectionsFewer rights and protections
PurposeEnsure the accused appears for trial and doesn’t tamper with evidenceGather evidence and build a case

What is Judicial Custody?

In judicial custody, the arrested person is placed in the care of a jail or other detention facility. The person may be held until their court case is resolved, and at that point, either go free or be placed in criminal custody. They are detained while they await a ruling by the court and are not free to leave.  Judicial custody may last for days, weeks, or even months.

The purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant’s appearance at trial. There are two types of bail: cash bail and surety bail. Cash bail is when you pay the court the full amount of bail in cash. The court will hold onto the money until the case is over.

After a person is arrested, they will be transferred to the county jail where they will have to wait for a bail hearing. If they are not released on bail, they will be held in judicial custody until their trial.

Conditions and Rights

While in judicial custody, individuals are held in detention facilities such as jails or detention centers. They are entitled to certain rights, including the right to legal representation, the right to a fair trial, and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

Conditions of custody must adhere to legal standards and ensure the safety and well-being of the detainee. This includes access to medical care, adequate food and shelter, and protection from harm.

Review and Appeal

Individuals held in judicial custody have the right to challenge their detention through legal mechanisms such as habeas corpus petitions or bail applications. They may seek review of their custody status by higher courts to determine if their detention is lawful and justified.

if new evidence emerges or there is a change in circumstances, individuals may petition the court for a reconsideration of their custody status. Appeals against custody decisions can be made to higher courts, providing a safeguard against wrongful or unjustified detention.

Examples of Judicial Custody

Harvey Weinstein: The former Hollywood producer was placed in judicial custody after being convicted of sexual assault and rape charges in February 2020. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Lindsay Lohan: The actress faced multiple legal troubles, including DUI charges and probation violations, which led to her spending time in judicial custody in 2010 and 2011.

O.J. Simpson: Following his highly publicized trial for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in 1994, O.J. Simpson was placed in judicial custody after being found liable for the deaths in a civil trial.

Bernard Madoff: The infamous financier behind one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 and spent the remainder of his life in judicial custody.

Martha Stewart: The lifestyle guru was convicted of charges related to insider trading in 2004 and spent five months in judicial custody before being released to serve the remainder of her sentence under house arrest.

What is Police Custody?

Police custody is a criminal justice system in which a person who has been arrested or is under investigation is held in custody by law enforcement officials. Police custody may be temporary (for example, while a criminal investigation is ongoing) or permanent. During police custody, the person may be subjected to questioning by law enforcement officials.

Police custody is the legal process in which a person who has been arrested or is under investigation is held in custody by law enforcement officials. Police custody may be temporary or permanent. During police custody, the person may be subjected to questioning by law enforcement officials.

Police custody is the period of time during which a suspect is held in police custody. This can be either before or after being charged with a crime. The custody may be brief, such as when the suspect is being held for questioning, or it may be more prolonged, such as when the suspect is awaiting trial.

The conditions of police custody can vary depending on the country and the specific case.

Duration and Conditions of Custody

The duration of police custody is limited by law, with specific time frames for holding suspects without formal charges or judicial review. During detention, individuals are held in designated facilities, such as police stations or holding cells, where they are provided with basic amenities and medical care as necessary.

However, conditions of custody must adhere to legal standards to prevent mistreatment or violations of human rights.

Procedures and Interrogation

Interrogation of detainees in police custody follows established procedures aimed at gathering evidence and eliciting information relevant to the investigation. Law enforcement officers are required to conduct interrogations in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, respecting the rights of suspects and avoiding coercive tactics or undue pressure.

Statements obtained through coercion or violation of rights may be deemed inadmissible in court.

Role of Legal Representation

Individuals held in police custody have the right to legal representation, either through private attorneys or court-appointed counsel if unable to afford legal services.

Legal representatives play a crucial role in advising detainees of their rights, advocating on their behalf during questioning, and ensuring fair treatment throughout the custodial process. They may also assist in negotiating bail or challenging the legality of the detention.

Examples of Police Custody

George Floyd: The death of George Floyd in police custody in 2020 sparked global protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s murder.

Rodney King: The beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers in 1991, captured on video, led to widespread outrage and riots in the city when the officers involved were acquitted.

Ahmaud Arbery: Arbery, an African American man, was fatally shot while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, in 2020. The subsequent investigation and arrest of the suspects involved raised questions about racial bias in policing.

Freddie Gray: Gray’s death in 2015 while in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland, sparked protests and riots against police brutality. Six police officers were charged in connection with his death, although none were convicted.

Sandra Bland: Bland was found dead in her jail cell in Texas in 2015, three days after being arrested during a traffic stop. Her death raised concerns about racial profiling and the treatment of individuals in police custody.

Difference Between Judicial Custody and Police Custody

Nature of Custody:

  1. Judicial custody occurs after a person is formally charged with a crime and is remanded by a court. It involves detention in a prison or correctional facility.
  2. Police custody happens when a person is apprehended by law enforcement but has not yet been formally charged. This custody occurs in a police station or holding cell.

Authority and Supervision:

  1. Judicial custody falls under the jurisdiction of the judiciary, where the court oversees the detention of the accused based on legal procedures and judicial orders.
  2. Police custody is under the control and supervision of law enforcement agencies, where officers have the authority to detain individuals for questioning and investigation.


  1. Judicial custody can be extended for longer periods, especially if the trial process takes time or if the accused is denied bail.
  2. Police custody is temporary and can range from a few hours to a few days, depending on the progress of the investigation and the need for further questioning.


  1. Judicial custody is primarily aimed at ensuring that the accused appears for trial and to prevent any potential threat they may pose to society.
  2. Police custody is for the purpose of interrogation, gathering evidence, and establishing the involvement of the individual in a crime.

Legal Rights and Protections:

  1. In judicial custody, the accused retains certain rights, such as the right to legal representation, the right to remain silent, and protection against self-incrimination.
  2. Police custody may involve limited rights, as individuals may be subjected to interrogation and may not have immediate access to legal counsel.

Conditions and Treatment:

  1. Judicial custody offers better living conditions, as detainees are housed in established correctional facilities with provisions for food, shelter, and medical care.
  2. Police custody conditions can vary but are more basic, with detainees held in holding cells or lockups without many amenities.

Access to Family and Visitors:

  1. In judicial custody, there are provisions for visitation rights, allowing detainees to meet with family members and loved ones during specified times.
  2. Police custody may limit or restrict access to visitors, especially during the initial stages of investigation.

Bail and Release:

  1. Bail may be an option for individuals in judicial custody, allowing them temporary release from detention while awaiting trial, subject to certain conditions.
  2. Police custody does not involve the option for bail, as individuals are held for questioning and investigation purposes and may be released or formally charged based on the outcome of the inquiry.


  1. https://www.proquest.com/openview/40750c1cdd16f081d97027077c2174cc/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9780203810316/police-custody-layla-skinns