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Definition of "detained" in Question 16 of N400 form.

Discussion in 'US Citizenship' started by WhoRunTings, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. WhoRunTings

    WhoRunTings Registered Users (C)

    Hi all...

    I'm confused as to what "detained" means in Question 16 (Q16) of Part 10 of the N-400 form. It is:

    Have you ever been arrested, cited or detained by any law enforcement officer (including USCIS or former INS and military officers) for any reason?

    If I get pulled over for a minor traffic violation and let go with a verbal warning, or simply let go, does that count as detained?

    If I get stopped for questioning as a suspect in a crime, then let go without any charges, does that count as detained?

    I was suspected of shoplifting one time (which I did not do), and an officer stopped me for questioning. They reviewed the security camera footage and realized I was not the suspect, so they let me go. Do I have to report this? They checked my ID, but I'm not sure if they wrote anything down.

  2. Vorpal

    Vorpal Registered Users (C)

    There's no need to disclose either of those incidents.
  3. Bobsmyth

    Bobsmyth Volunteer Moderator

    Detained in this sense usually means that you were held at a police station or immigration office, not for being cited for a traffic ticket or asked questions as a suspect.

    Since you will answer YES anyways to this question for your arrest disclosed in the other thread, you can clarify the shoplifting incident to the IO at the interview , but there is no need for you to disclose it.
  4. WhoRunTings

    WhoRunTings Registered Users (C)

    Right, exactly. But I am wondering if I should list the times I was pulled over and let go without anything written in that little table on the form where you elaborate anything bad about your record (after Q21, Part 10, N-400).

    Basically, here is what I am afraid of: I don't report a minor interaction with a police officer, and at the interview I am asked whether I left anything like that off of my application. Maybe my USCIS case officer is feeling particularly nitpicky that day, and it turns out they want to know such stuff. Then I have a problem.

    I don't want to lie to the officer or USCIS. On the other hand, it seems ridiculous to list times I've been pulled over or questioned by an officer when no offense was found and I don't even remember the date, the officer, or the jurisdiction. It is conceivable the police station may have a record of the incident even if they didn't give me anything written, so I'm confused.
  5. Vorpal

    Vorpal Registered Users (C)

    You worry too much. There's no need to report being pulled over and being let go with a warning. There's also no need to report being questioned by a police officer. I've had more interactions with police than I can remember (there are cops in my family). If I had to disclose each time I talked to a cop, I definitely would have to lie on my N-400. Also, if such was the situation, I'd seriously reconsider living in the U.S....but that's a whole other story.
  6. Bobsmyth

    Bobsmyth Volunteer Moderator

    In that case my suggestion would be to answer "Apart from a payed minor traffic ticket and being questioned (never charged) for a incident, no I have never been cited or detained by police". You can then explain that no record exists of either if the IO makes it a point to see documentation. Either way, this is a non issue for determination of moral character as far as I'm concerned.
  7. WhoRunTings

    WhoRunTings Registered Users (C)

    That's what I'm going to go with. Looking at some of the other threads in this forum, I think I am going too far with my attempts to disclose everything.

    Thanks folks!
  8. Bobsmyth

    Bobsmyth Volunteer Moderator

  9. dafortycal

    dafortycal Registered Users (C)

    Wrong! According to the question he was. It is better to answer the question than to risk taking the chance that his name appears on some field interview card that they can access. In my State, ICE can access local incident reports, It is easier to say you were stopped, questioned and released than to explain you way out of "forgetting" a incident. Once they catch you in a half-truth, they will starting digging for other things you might have not told them.

    I spent years working for the INS, never could understand why people would spent hundreds or thousands of dollars to have a Attorney help them with the forms. The questions are simple! You were either stopped or you were not, the question require no special knowledge, just the truth. It isn't your job to decide if a speeding ticket needs to be reported or not, you were still cited.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2009
  10. WhoRunTings

    WhoRunTings Registered Users (C)

  11. WhoRunTings

    WhoRunTings Registered Users (C)

    Yeah, this is my worry -- there may be an official record of the incident.

    I have no intention of lying or telling half-truths. I am not going to claim that I "forgot" anything. If I choose not to list the times I was questioned and released on the N-400, and the immigration officer asks at the interview about being detained, certainly I can explain my reasoning using something like Bobsmyth's suggestion in post #6, right?
  12. TheRealCanadian

    TheRealCanadian Volunteer Moderator

    According to that logic, you are "detained" every time you cross the border into the US.
  13. Mr Vertigo

    Mr Vertigo Registered Users (C)

    Wow, that's an interesting video.
  14. Vorpal

    Vorpal Registered Users (C)

    Being questioned by a police officer is NOT being detained!!!
  15. Vorpal

    Vorpal Registered Users (C)

    Thank you! Same goes for going through a random police checkpoint. Here in NYC, the NYPD is known for setting up random breathalyzer/seat belt checkpoints. I highly doubt that USCIS wants to know about every time an applicant passed through one of those.
  16. Bobsmyth

    Bobsmyth Volunteer Moderator

    My wife questions me after I come home late after a night out with a friend. She tells me I'm not free to go until I answer her questions, so I guess I'm being detained as well. So much for telling the truth on my application.:D
  17. WhoRunTings

    WhoRunTings Registered Users (C)

    Interesting point. I have been to Canada twice. That's 4 counts of "detention," 1 for crossing the border each way! And then there was that time I went to Europe... 2 counts of "detention" each way (I connected through countries where I had to cross some sort of immigration/customs checkpoints), that's 4 more counts!

    So just for doing a bit of perfectly legal, innocuous traveling, I now have 6 counts of detention on my record.

    dafortycal: I agree with you that the letter of the law seems to say I should report these things. But the debate in this thread seems to be "letter of the law" versus "spirit of the law." In the spirit of the law, the fact that I was questioned and let go, or stopped at the US border like every other person, doesn't count for or against my good moral character, which is the point of Part 10 of the N-400 form. I really doubt the IO is going to care about these incidents. It is clear from my N-400 that I traveled abroad, yet I am not reporting being questioned by border agents. But does the IO really want to read what is now a gigantic list of non-offenses that I would have to list just to be technically correct?

    I am strongly leaning towards not reporting my interactions with the law where no offense was found, no citation or warning written, and so forth. I plan to submit my N-400 before the end of the week and will keep y'all updated.

    Thanks for everyone's help!
  18. Vorpal

    Vorpal Registered Users (C)

    As you should! At times, this board tends to fan the flames of paranoia a bit more than necessary. If nothing negative came out of your interaction with a law enforcement officer, there is absolutely no need to report it on the N-400. Case closed.
  19. kalyani9

    kalyani9 Registered Users (C)

    The instruction of N-400 specifically tell you not to report traffic stops if it did not involve drugs and alcohol.

    NJOY_SCUBA Registered Users (C)

    not quite true. this is what it says

    You are still required to report any citation but are not required to submit documentation (like fine payment receipts, traffic school attendence, court papers) if the citation was not related to drugs or alcohol and fine was less than $500.

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