It is best to clearly state up front that using physical force to arrest someone is not a good idea, but nearly all states, and some argue the U.S. constitution, grant the power of arrest to individual citizens in certain circumstances. Such a measure has historically been seen as a means of upholding the law and peace before the authorities arrive.
Citizenís arrest laws vary by state, but they generally read like that of California, which allows a citizenís arrest in any one of three situations:
ē The citizen witnesses a person commit public offense.
ē The citizen is explicitly aware the person committed a felony, but did not witness the crime.
ē The citizen is aware a felony occurred and has reasonable cause to believe the person committed the crime.
Citizenís arrest laws are more complicated in some other states. Some say a citizenís arrest is only valid if a felony has been committed. Other states allow a citizenís arrest for misdemeanors or only a select few misdemeanors.
Not only is it important to understand the laws about a citizenís arrest, but it is important to understand the law about the possible crime that has been committed. You may have a big lawsuit and possible criminal charges on your hands if you detain someone who didnít commit a crime.
One common reason for a citizenís arrest is in trespassing. However, many states donít consider a person to be trespassing unless they forcibly entered your property. If a guy gets lost in an adjacent wood and unknowingly wanders into a field you own, it would be a grievous mistake to place that person under a citizenís arrest.
Now that we know what a citizenís arrest is, this is the recommended way to handle one:
1. Analyze the situation, and make sure it warrants an arrest.
2. Assess the danger of the situation. If a person is armed or otherwise dangerous, think twice about trying to detain him or her or even to make yourself stand out.
3. Demand loudly and clearly the person to stop.
4. Inform the person they are under a citizenís arrest and must remain here until authorities arrive.
5. Physically restraining a fleeing arrestee is not recommended unless you are absolutely certain you will not be physically harmed yourself.
6. Call local authorities. 911 will do.
7. When police arrive, identify yourself and allow them to take control of the situation.
Posted 2834 day ago