What is exactly is "Citizen's Arrest?"

Discussion in 'Legal' started by whm1974, May 11, 2020.

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  1. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    I have this this friend who tends to say outright silly stuff that I have to warn him about possible legal consequences if he did follow through...

    One of them is Citizen's Arrest. He actually claimed that if he had an IL FOID card, he'll be allowed to carry a gun and if witnessing a crime, he can then arrest the person and take him to his own private jail in his basement... I quickly informed him that he can not do this, and that he will be charge and convicted of kidnapping. Along with getting straight sent to Prison. In addiction getting himself sued for everything he has.

    Especially if the person didn't actually did anything illegal at all. I also had so many people saying that the IL FOID allows the Holder to legally carry a handgun in the State of Illinois, so many times it is not even funny.

    What is Citizen's Citizen anyway? The very little I know is that it is some hold over from Dark ages and Middle ages when there no such thing as the Police. Local Subjects upon witnessing a crime/felony were suppose to hold and take the suspect to local Sheriff of the local Lord and he dealt with the perp.

    Here in the United States, to my knowledge the few Police Departments that said anything Publicly at all, was Don't Do it!

    Anyone know any about this subject? Most of times I heard about this is from some Militia type calling for the overthrow of Federal Government by the People/States. I honestly thought they made the entire thing up.

    Why would States ever since the Police existed even allow Citizens to do this? Aside from very limited cases of shoplifters or assisting the Police?

    Why can't folks do simple fact checking? Oh here is the Wikipedia entry of subject in the United States:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen%27s_arrest#United_States
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2020
  2. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    Citizens arrest is recognized in all states except NC and WA.

    A FOID or whatever gives you no more authority to do so.

    One needs to.research what state laws say.

    Your grandmother can make a citizens arrest but you need to know what state laws say.

    I.know in the past (not sure if it's still so) one had to place a hand on the subject to place them under arrest in many jurisdictions
    ?

    All.arrests have to be made on probable cause. If you're not sure what that is don't do it.

    I say this with over 30 years as a LEO. Never had an arrest challenged for pc.

    To my experience you must turn over a citizens arrest to.police. No where can you lock them in your basement.
     
  3. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    As one can never100% be to sure what the Law actually says, never mind Court Rulings and recent changes... I wouldn't do this at all. I'm your Provincial 90 lbs weakling and always had weak upper body strength all my life. Hell I can't even throw a punch if my life depended on it. Come to think of it, an 8 y/o little girl can beat the crap out of me if she wanted to.

    Yes I am actually that weak...
     
  4. 1942bull

    1942bull Member

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    There is a good explanation of Citizens Arrest at Findlaw. You can read it here. It is important to understand that each state has its own laws that govern the practice, so what Findlaw wrote is only general guidance. I know of a case in PA about a decade or so ago when a man made a citizens arrest and ended up convicted of a number of crimes including false arrest and false imprisonment. He was put probation without a jail sentence. The he was sued by the person he arrested. I do not know the outcome of that matter, but I could not have good for the defendant.

    The killing in GA by the father and son was an attempt to make a citizens arrest that resulted in homicide although the degree of same is not determined yet as far as I know.
     
  5. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Member

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    Anyone can detain a person believed to have committed a crime for law enforcement - that's essentially all a "citizen's arrest" involves.
    There are specific laws in each state that covers someone in this situation -and you'd better know your state's statutes in that area before you ever even consider acting on your own...

    The problem for anyone doing this is that you have no coverage, criminally or civilly if you've acted without proper cause (see the father and son in Georgia case currently in the news...). In short you have none of the advantages that law enforcement has - and absolutely no certainty how it will be reviewed once authorities respond - so I'd view it as an act of last resort - and not recommend it to anyone - unless you have no other choice... In fact, you may have acted within the law - but might still face civil consequences as a result....

    When I was in law enforcement (all those years ago, 1973 to 1995) I actually handled more than a few incidents where a citizen had detained someone and called the police after watching them commit a crime - anything from shoplifting on up to serious felonies... Mostly, those actions worked out okay for the citizen. Occasionally a citizen might even get a commendation later... In some cases things didn't go well and we ended up arresting the "citizen"... since they'd acted without proper cause and in fact had committed an assault or other crime on someone they mistakenly believed had broken the law... I have personally been involved in situations where the would be citizen's arrest or detention turned into an injured or killed citizen...

    If asked during my years on the street, my usual advice to any store or home owner was to simply be a good witness, call in the problem, and be on scene to point officers in the right direction and nothing more since an action on your part will be reviewed later by folks that might take a different view of what occurred entirely... Of course all of us have our moments - and I did in fact on more than one occasion, act as a citizen (an armed citizen) when I saw a serious felony occurring - even outside my own jurisdiction (I was a city cop - so my only authority stemmed from my employment by a specific city... no where else at all..). In each case I was risking not only my safety - but also my job, if I acted improperly...

    Glad I'm long out of that world...
     
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  6. 1942bull

    1942bull Member

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    @lemaymiami woke up my memory of a day in 1972 when I made a citizens arrest. I was photographing a Princeton/Rutgers basketball game for the NYT. I had to leave the game before it was over to messenger the film to the Paper so The pics would be in the morning edition. As I walked out young woman was running in the hallway and screAming as she tried to open office doors that were locked. I managed to get he calmed a bit and she told me a man had tried to rape her. Than she pointed to a man at the end of the corridor and. Hollered “That’s him.” It took off after the guy and caught him when he tried to exit the building through a locked door. Well, I was just 3 years out of the Corps and had retained my H2H skills. He pulled a knife. He never got it higher than his waist. It Ka amazing how disabling a palm thrust under the chin can be. He went out cold. I immobilized him until the police arrived. I did not get arrested. In fact I got Commendatio in which they spelled my name wrong. The perp went to jail. So times you just do what you have to do.
     
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  7. Crunchy Frog

    Crunchy Frog Member

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    So Gomer Pyle was on shaky ground, after all.
     
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  8. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    In Florida, a "citizen" who witnesses a forcible felony and immediately detains the perpetrator isn't automatically considered to have arrested him. Unless he advises the perpetrator that he is indeed under arrest, and follows through with the PC affidavit (sworn statement attesting to the reasons for the arrest), the responding officers actually make the arrest based upon their investigation (which would include the citizen's statement.)

    If a non-LEO does indeed make a "citizen's arrest", that non-LEO becomes and remains the arresting officer throughout the judicial process.

    I once witnessed a hit-and-run vehicle collision, followed by the suspect vehicle crashing into a nearby ditch. I ordered the driver, who was staggering from it, to come to the sidewalk and sit. He complied. He was obviously drunk, and responding deputies took him into custody.

    Later that night, the deputy handling the case called me and told me there was an issue with it, as none of them had witnessed the driver actually in or operating the vehicle while intoxicated. I was the only one identified who had. I allowed them to take a recorded statement from me, and offered to come down and arrest the driver myself (the deputy did know that I am former LE.) It didn't come to that, though.
     
  9. 1942bull

    1942bull Member

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    For anyone interested in the Citizens Arrest killing in GA there is a good analysis here.
     
  10. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Thanks guy. My friend does have a severe mental illness causes him to say stuff that gets me worried a few times. I went a grocery store with him at the start of the epidemic this year and he joking around to me about having Corvid-19... When we gotten back home I call him up and cussed him out about the whole thing. I informed him that he could have gotten arrested and charged with causing a panic.

    I wonder if he even thinks first before saying crap like this.
     
  11. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    Some of you will certainly hate the conclusions, etc. but I thought this was a really clear and detailed discussion of the Georgia laws on "citizens arrest" et al:
    https://thedispatch.com/p/a-vigilante-killing-in-georgia

    Key basis in law (in that state! Yours is likely different) from the article and note the links so you can read the statutes yourself:
    Georgia law does indeed permit a person to execute a citizen’s arrest—in very narrow circumstances. The relevant false arrest statute holds that a “private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”

    Once the citizen’s arrest is properly made, Georgia law requires the citizen to take the suspect before a judicial officer or peace officer “without any unnecessary delay.”

    It’s also true, however, that an unlawful attempt to take and hold a person is itself a crime—false imprisonment. Under Georgia law, a person commits the crime of false imprisonment “when, in violation of the personal liberty of another, he arrests, confines, or detains such person without legal authority.”

    Moreover, according to Georgia case law, one cannot use the citizen’s arrest statute “to question” a suspect. In fact, stating an intention to question a suspect can be evidence that the individual claiming a right to make a citizen’s arrest is “uncertain and did not have immediate knowledge” that the victim had been the perpetrator of the alleged crime.
     
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  12. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    In short, it's a fantasy that can get you in a whole lot of trouble.
     
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  13. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    Ok, the general rule in Legal is that you cite the relevant passage in state law along with your discussion of it. Better yet, provide a link.
    Example,

    2010 Georgia Code
    TITLE 17 - CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
    CHAPTER 4 - ARREST OF PERSONS
    ARTICLE 4 - ARREST BY PRIVATE PERSONS
    § 17-4-60 - Grounds for arrest
    O.C.G.A. 17-4-60 (2010)
    17-4-60. Grounds for arrest


    A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.

    https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-17/chapter-4/article-4/17-4-60/

    Where one must be careful is that the statute is the beginning of the process, not the end.

    For example, in Georgia, an unjustified detention without a warrant is a tort of false imprisonment, aka common law term is trespass upon a person see, Smith v. Embry, 103 GA. App. 375, 377 (1961). In Georgia code, the tort is defined as “False imprisonment is the unlawful detention of the person of another, for any length of time, whereby such person is deprived of his personal liberty.” OCGA § 51-7-20. “The only essential elements of the action being the detention and its unlawfulness, malice and the want of probable cause need not be shown.” (see Westberry v. Clanton 136 Ga 795, (1911).

    In Georgia, due to Georgia statutes, commercial establishments have more protections from these torts than individuals and once again, a fair amount of the caselaw deals with citizen's arrests done by off duty police officers or officers out of jurisdiction.

    For example, in Florida, common law is used which means that the courts in Florida have interpreted the reach of arrests, see McAnnis v. State, 386 So. 2d 1230 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1980) https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1114741/mcannis-v-state/

    Ruling precedent is State v. Phoenix, 455 So.2d 1024 (Fla. 1984)

    "The district court of appeal reversed. Although agreeing with the trial court that the officers had no official authority to stop and arrest the defendants in St. Lucie County, the district court reasoned that the officers might have properly conducted a common-law citizen's arrest. On motion for rehearing, the district court certified the following question to be of great public importance:
    Can an arrest be validated as a “citizen's arrest”
    (1) if the arrest resulted from an intentional surveillance conducted by police officers outside their jurisdiction utilizing a police aircraft and officers on the ground and,
    (2) if the police officers used a marked police car and asserted their official position in stopping the arrestees?
    428 So.2d at 267. We answer the questions in the affirmative.
    At common law, a private citizen could make an arrest without a warrant in certain specific circumstances:
    A private citizen does have the common law right to arrest a person who commits a felony in his presence, or to arrest a person where a felony has been committed, and where the arresting citizen has probable cause to believe, and does believe, the person arrested to be guilty. Even though there was time to obtain a warrant, a private citizen may make such an arrest and justify his failure to obtain a warrant by proving the person arrested was actually guilty of a felony.
    Collins v. State, 143 So.2d 700, 703 (Fla. 2d DCA), cert. denied, 148 So.2d 280 (Fla.1962). See also State v. Shipman, 370 So.2d 1195 (Fla. 4th DCA 1979), cert. denied, 381 So.2d 769 (Fla.1980).

    In interpreting the citizen's arrest in common law of Florida, one must be careful as much of the caselaw is from law enforcement officials working off duty and sometimes out of jurisdiction. In such cases, the Florida courts repeatedly have found that an officer conducting such an arrest is without the color of the law protection for actions and thus is bound by common law.

    One of the more interesting cases that uses Florida law for an ordinary civilian versus civilian case is a military court martial of an airman at a Florida airbase. U.S. v. Shepherd, 33 M.J. 66, 69, (CMA 1991). The Court of Military Appeals interpreted Florida laws regarding citizen's arrest and whether the accused had the right to self defense against being detained by the citizen affecting the arrest. The court concluded that Shepherd did not have the right to self defense as the original detention of the suspect by the citizen/airman was justified. However, during the arrest, the citizen/airman was sucker punched, had his nose severely broken and required extensive corrective surgery.

    In a similar warning to those planning citizen's arrest, the following passage is from Johnson v. Barnes and Noble, 437 F.3d 1112 (11th Cir. 2006). This case involves someone suing Barnes and Noble and winning based on the Florida tort of false imprisonment after a citizen's arrest by a Barnes and Noble employee.

    "In Florida, the tort of false imprisonment is defined as “the unlawful restraint of a person against his will, the gist of which action is the unlawful detention of the plaintiff and the deprivation of his liberty.” Johnson v. Weiner 19 So. 2d. 699, 700 (1944). In a false imprisonment action the plaintiff is required only to “establish imprisonment contrary to his will and the unlawfulness of the detention.”

    Barnes& Noble argues that Johnson's detention was lawful in this case based on the right of a citizen to effectuate an arrest for breach of the peace. Section 877.03 (2); Florida Statutes defines a breach of the peace as occurring when a person commits “such acts as are of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them, or engages in brawling or fighting[.]” Florida courts have narrowly interpreted the meaning of this statute, and have required a showing that a breach of the peace presents an imminent threat to the public security or morals to justify a citizen taking immediate action. Moreover, Florida law requires that in order to effectuate a citizen's arrest, the breach must “be committed in the presence of the private citizen.” Steiner v. State, 690 So. 2d 706, 708 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1997). Indeed, pursuant to Florida law, not even a police officer can effectuate a warrantless arrest for a misdemeanor, if the misdemeanor was not committed in his presence. Johnson was detained, however, by Barnes & Noble employees who had been told, but had not witnessed, the alleged misdemeanor. Moreover, there were no allegations that Johnson had continued this behavior or was at the time of the detention disruptive or committing other “such acts as are of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them.” Under the facts presented here—showing no imminent threat and actions not committed in the presence of those detaining Johnson—we find that the district court did not err in denying the requested instruction for breach of the peace, and accordingly, Barnes & Noble is not entitled to a new trial on liability."

    Barnes and Noble had to pay $117,000 dollars in damages as a result. Most citizens are unable to define what is a felony or a misdemeanor and in many states under their common law, detaining someone for a misdemeanor is subject to legal peril as only particular misdemeanors apply and usually under common law the crime must be committed in the presence of the person conducting the citizen's arrest. Other states have their laws codified, such as Georgia which can give a bit more certainty to some actions than caselaw. But, even in these states, the statute's meaning will often be determined by caselaw including some old cases so as to give effect to what the legislature intended. It is too extensive and beyond THR needs to discuss, but the preemption of common law/caselaw by a statute is a complicated matter and is idiosyncratic to a particular state's legal culture.
     
  14. RickD427

    RickD427 Member

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    The law's regarding Private Persons arrests vary from state to state. The concept is a hold-over from the days of common law.

    As a practical matter, and after 30 years as an LEO in Los Angeles, I've never seen a case where an untrained person, or one not acting in conjunction with law enforcement, has successfully made a Private Person's Arrest. Most attempts have resulted in the person attempting the arrest going to jail themselves.

    One of the basic pitfalls with the process is the certainty of knowledge required before an arrest is authorized. In California, a person must know that a crime has been committed before the arrest can be made, and only in felony cases, is permitted a "Probable Cause" level of doubt as to the identity of the violator. There is no exemption from the laws concerning false imprisonment, kidnapping, assault, or battery for the person making the arrest. If the crime has not actually been committed, then the person attempting the arrest is likely going to be charged with one of those offenses. There is no allowance for the making of a reasonable mistake.

    California law does not require a person to submit to a private person's arrest. There's usually gonna be a fight.

    The law additionally requires that the person making the arrest deliver the accused to a peace officer or magistrate without delay. Up until about 20 years ago, California peace officers were required to accept custody of persons privately arrested, but the law was changed after LAPD officers incarcerated a private arrestee where there was no crime committed. The federal court upheld a large damage award on the theory that a state statute could not authorize a Fourth Amendment violation. This is where most private persons arrests go south. When the peace officer enters the picture, and the arrest is legally lacking, they're not going to accept custody. Then what are you going to do? (Answer - Probably going to go to jail yourself for one or more of the above violations).

    The one place where a Private Person's Arrest remains a viable tool is when used in conjunction with a LEO for misdemeanor offenses not committed in the officer's presence. With just a few specific exceptions, officers cannot make warrantless arrests of folks for misdemeanor offenses not committed in the officer's presence. But they can accept custody of such folks when they have been privately arrested by someone who did witness the violation (and the officer can perform all of the manual tasks involved in the arrest).
     
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  15. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Like I said, I wouldn't even do it at all as it will be a very risky thing to do.
     
  16. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

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    Only time I will make such an arrest would be holding burglars at gun point until officer's arrive. Even that can get you in trouble in certain areas.
     
  17. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Such as killed.
     
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  18. GEM

    GEM Moderator Emeritus

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    Why do folks think holding someone at gun point is easy? So I'm in your house, stealing your toilet paper. You catch me and say: I'm holding you at gun point. Don't Move!

    You have a back door as most houses do.

    I say: I'm walking out your back door or front door - which ever I am closer to. I turn my back and walk away.

    Your move.
     
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  19. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    DON'T SHOOT!!! You will only get in serious trouble.
     
  20. GEM

    GEM Moderator Emeritus

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    That was my point, I think for the naive posturing Internet participant.
     
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  21. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    Worth going to use of force lectures by informed (in your state!) lawyers. They exist, ask around among the firearms training crowd.

    If I catch someone burglarizing my house, stop them because they are persuaded by the guy with the rifle, and stand there with their hands up, then while I am calling 911:
    • I am only stopping them from being a threat to me, and my family. When the cops come I absolutely am not detaining them. I'd try my best to demonstrate this is true by not placing myself between them and a door if safe to do.
    • If they walk off... uh, okay. Not gonna warn them, move to stop them, shoot them as long as they are reducing the threat by opening the distance.

    KS allows even more latitude than the GA stuff quoted above to make a Private Person Arrest (probable cause not just direct observation) and yet I cannot think of a reason I would invoke that, or test the bounds of valid use of force in making an arrest, as long as I have stopped the imminent threat to life/safety.

    http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/statute/022_000_0000_chapter/022_024_0000_article/022_024_0003_section/022_024_0003_k/
    https://www.ksrevisor.org/statutes/chapters/ch21/021_052_0028.html

    Too many of the people in the post-riding-on-horses era who try to facilitate a "citizens arrest" end up in the papers. I don't really want that.
     
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  22. boom boom

    boom boom Member

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    Most of the caselaw that I reviewed dealt with law enforcement officers who were off duty or out of jurisdiction--the legal questions often examined warrantless searches and seizures, probable cause, etc.. Another set dealt with private security guards and store employees--in many cases these involved shoplifters, etc. and civil lawsuits involving false imprisonment. Few addressed individuals alone.

    What people should be concerned with is that in many states, like Florida, citizen's arrest is from common law and that means one will not find a nice neat statutory definition. What will exist is a patchwork of cases as precedent, many of which do not pertain to your predicament and some may be contradictory, especially if you have different appellate districts as some large states do like Florida and Texas.

    Legally, the practice is fraught with risk and tactically, the same. I would never absolutely rule it out as sometimes, the dice really comes out snake eyes but holding criminals at gunpoint is right up there with using lethal force. If there is any other way to avoid it, don't do it.
     
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  23. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Speaking of Common Law... What that exactly? Seems to be a widely abused and misunderstood legal concept to me.
     
  24. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator In Memoriam

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    O P, your friend is an idiot.

    Like my LEO brothers stated above, - dont!

    Twenty years As a cop in Boston taught me,
    1 A citizens only right is to protect himself. Not property. And don't go acting like you are a one man swat team
    2 Citizens arrest is legal tangle most citizens don't understand, and without the protection of sovereign immunity.
    3 Be a good witness, but protect yourself.
    4 Call 911

    Like @lemaymiami said above: I don't miss it and glad I'm out.
     
  25. pbearperry

    pbearperry Member

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    A citizens arrest is the best way to get you sued, charged with a crime and possibly imprisoned. If it does not go well, there is no entity to back you up period.
     
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