Citizen's Arrest Laws? (PA)


December 22, 2006, 04:19 PM
Okay, Pennsylvania's general refusal to make important parts of its laws and procedures available to the public is really starting to tick me off. For instance, Title 18 of the Pennsylvania code isn't available to the public at all without buying a law book (not cheap).

I found an out-of-date AOL site with most of PA's code, but parts of it are exceedingly broken.

Settle a bet. Does anyone here (lawyer, LEO, ex-LEO...) know where, in Pennsylvania law, citizen's arrests are mentioned, allowed for, prohibited, anything? Google fails me. Someone's told me that they are allowed for felonies only, but could not cite any statute, case law, or anything of the sort.

So I'm suspicious.

I figure this may come in handy at some point for the old "random BG breaking into your house" scenario, which is what brought the question up in the first place.

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December 22, 2006, 04:21 PM
Im sure the only thing you can do is hold them at gun point until the police show up.

The Deer Hunter
December 22, 2006, 04:22 PM
I dont think anyone would have a problem with you holding a BG until the police arive.

December 22, 2006, 04:27 PM
Yes, but I'm thinking combating "unlawful detention" charges by said slimeballs attorney. The goal here is to be able to argue "Yes, under PA code title whatever, section whatever, I did indeed hold said slimeball under citizens arrest until the police arrived."

You guys are doing the same thing I've been running up against all day. "Nobody should have a problem with it," or "I think," or "It should work this way."

Most people don't have a problem with you not signaling for minor turns, too, but find the right cop and discover it's illegal.

December 22, 2006, 04:47 PM
Zero - I wouldn't get too worried about this.

If the bad guy tries to run away, let him. Get a description, direction of travel, license plate, whatever. If he attacks you, stop the threat. Your actions will be as good as they are whether or not you know some statute number.

Maybe you could get last year's relevant law book from or eBay or a college bookstore or something.

Or maybe you aren't looking hard enough? I don't believe that there's any way a state can have "secret" laws, or laws you can only know about if you pay big bucks for law books. CA has all code sections online, even though I'm sure someone does a booming business in selling huge, expensive sets of law books to law students and lawyers.

Steve in PA
December 22, 2006, 05:07 PM
There is no such thing as a formal "citizen's arrest" in PA.

Detaining someone who committed a crime would probably not cause you any problems, provided the person you have did in fact commit the crime.

If he didn't you yourself could face charges of false imprisonment;

2903. False imprisonment.

(a) Offense defined.A person commits an offense if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.
(b) Grading.
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), an offense under subsection (a) is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
(2) If the victim of the offense is an individual under 18 years of age, an offense under subsection (a) is a felony of the second degree. (Chgd. by L.2000, Act 98(1), eff. 12/20/2000.)

December 22, 2006, 05:27 PM
A lot of states only allow it for people committing a felony with a few exemptions for certain acts that would only be a misdemeanor.

December 22, 2006, 06:03 PM
Steve: That's the answer I was looking for. Thanks.

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