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citizens arrest

Discussion in 'Legal' started by belton-deer-hunter, Apr 3, 2006.

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  1. belton-deer-hunter

    belton-deer-hunter member

    Oct 12, 2005
    belton texas
    i am jsut wondering i know nothing about the law on this topic could citizens legally detain a person how has broken the law. while i admit i am thinking of the immagrant problem but for any purpose could one get away with this?
  2. Erebus

    Erebus Member

    Mar 13, 2006
    North Central MA
    Some LEO friends have told me that citizens can arrest but you better be absolutely sure you are doing it right and for good reason. In other words, it's possible, but not reccommended.
  3. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

    Jan 1, 2003
    SouthEast PA
    Actually, the police power of arrest derives from the Citizens power of arrest, and is enhanced with powers of arrest for misdemeanor infractions.

    Citizen arrest is discouraged for a number of really, really good reasons.

    Some of the reasons:

    * Many/most citizens are frequently mistaken both as to facts of the situation before them and as to law, and lack the training and tools necessary to discern them.

    * The biggest part of making a good arrest is making the arrest stick. This requires careful compilation and preservation of evidence, gathered in a lawful manner, a task most citizens are ill equipped to do.

    * The law protects officers acting in good faith from civil retribution via the courts. Whether a citizen has the same is highly variable, depending on the jurisdiction.

    The bottom line is that if you find someone flagrantly in violation of the law, such as an uninvited guest in your living room with your TV at o dark thirty, and can detain them with minimal or no danger to yourself, holding them for the police is reasonable.

    Trying to arrest someone obnoxious on the sidewalk for breach of the peace is an entirely different matter.

    As to illegal immigration, you're probably proposing something fraught with danger. You simply can't shake down every hispanic looking person you meet for papers, and as it stands, illegal immigration appears to be a misdemeanor in any event, and therefore citizen's arrest powers are limited to nonexistent.
  4. Thefabulousfink

    Thefabulousfink Member

    Dec 12, 2005
    Spokane, WA
    IIRC, If you detain someone against their will and it turns out that they have done nothing wrong then you can be charged with some serious felonies. I think kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment. Even if all you did was sit on them until the police arrived. Cops (in general) are not friendly towards "vigilante" actions, and even more so when they are in error. So CYA and make sure that you know the situation and the person is a BG.
  5. PaulBk

    PaulBk Member

    May 19, 2004
    Washington State
    It is a very fine line between citizen's arrest and illegal detainment. I suggest you leave law enforcement to LEOs.

  6. BigFatKen

    BigFatKen Member

    Dec 5, 2005
    Auburn, AL
    Bening here with an expired visa is a civil tort. Think jay-walking.
  7. WT

    WT Member

    Jun 11, 2003
    I have done it. Arrested a kid for vandalism and trespassing. Cops came and transported juvenile to his home. Went to juvenile court. Kid found guilty. Parents reimbursed me for the damage done to my property.
  8. Azrael256

    Azrael256 Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Geek makes a good point about just how police arrest works. WT, your story raises another important point. Just exactly how you do it is very important. Holding the home intruder at gunpoint is just peachy, but doing so with a spray-painting kid might not be. If you walk up and say "Ok, kid, I've called the police, so put down the spray can and take a seat right there while we wait for them," I wouldn't expect a problem. If, however, you sneak through the bushes, taser his truant butt, and try to cuff him... well, that's different.

    The point is that I wouldn't try to forcibly detain anyone who I didn't see committing a very obvious felony. I use obvious to mean that it's happening to me, or I am otherwise completely aware of all of the circumstances surrounding the situation (which doesn't happen often).
  9. Dex Sinister

    Dex Sinister Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    Northern CA. No, S.F. is not "in the north".
    As Geek points out, the main consideration is that police are shielded from civil liability for arrests performed as part of their duties, whereas you aren't.

    That being said, one of the main things, if one is going to attempt to effect a citizen's arrest based on actual evidence of a felony committed in one's presence, is to actually arrest the person, as opposed to just tackling them.

    Just like police, citizens actually have to inform the person that they are being arrested. After so informing, in most jurisdictions the arresting person is authorized by statute to use "necessary" force to acomplish the arrest, and to call for the assistance of others to effect it (including LEO's).

    Your milage in the subsequent civil case filed by the person you arrested may vary.

    Just remember that their standard for conviction in their criminal trial is "beyond a (or all) reasonable doubt," whereas your standard for a verdict against you in civil court is "preponderance of the evidence" - otherwise known as "if there are two 3-ton elephants standing balanced on opposite sides of the scales of justice, the party that a housefly lands on, wins."

    All that being said, in the above "spray-painting kid," example, if you manage to retain said kid simply on the basis of your projected authority, while failing to physically restrain him or block his way, most courts would likely fail to find a charge of illegal detainment valid

    P.S. The above should not be construed as legal advice: Check your local laws and retain a killer attorney before proceeding.

    Dex [​IMG]
  10. ElTacoGrande

    ElTacoGrande Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    República Aztlán
    Protecting our own lives is a job for all of us, but catching bad guys is a job for the pros.

    Citzens' arrest is on the books, and in some states where cops are not allowed to make arrests for misdemeanors that didn't occur in their presence, the cops will often have the citizen-witness make the arrest by saying "you're under arrest" and then the cops take the guy into custody. This is done all the time in California, for example. But it's done under a cop's guidance and supervision!

    With that one exception... save your skin and then let the cops handle everything else.
  11. Lucky

    Lucky Member

    Jul 12, 2005
    Calgary, near Rocky Mountains - Canada
    In Canada anyone can arrest someone they witness commiting and indictable offence (serious). If someone is committing a summary offence (less serious) on or to your property, or your employer's property, then they can arrest for that too. So the person at the cash-register has the same arrest powers as the security guard at a store. Peace officers differ in that they can arrest for summary offences anywhere, and indictable offences with reasonable suspicion (7-foot tall man in a red sweater robs a store, and they see someone looks like the description walking down the street nearby).

    Non-officers can't arrest someone if they lost contact with them in the pursuit, also.

    And if a lady says, "Help he stole my purse!" and you tackle the guy she points at, you did nothing wrong. If the man didn't steal her purse, she broke the law, not you, you were acting in good faith. If you hurt the guy, it's her fault.

    They don't teach ANY of this in school, though.
  12. bakert

    bakert Member

    May 1, 2005
    Let the Police do the arresting. Trying to make a citizens arrest might at the least only get you a good A--Whuppin or worse. Or you might wind up in jail yourself!!:eek:
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