Making a Citizen's Arrest: What You Should Know
Definition and Reasoning
- Compliance: The arrest must comply with federal and state constitutional provisions pertaining to "unreasonable search and seizure". In making a citizen's arrest, we must ensure to not abuse those we are detaining or arresting.
- Location: The crime must have been committed in the citizen's presence or within his view. In other words, one may initiate an arrest if the citizen and the criminal occupy the same temporal and spatial zone.
- Severity: The crime must be either a felony or a breach of peace. Put differently, we are looking at either a significant loss of life and property, or actions calculated to disturb the inhabitants of a place.
Probable Cause In Citizen's Arrests
I would not advise making a citizen arrest for a variety of reasons. First, most citizens are not trained to understand what probable cause means and the proper use of force to make an arrest. Failure to understand the proper procedures can result in liability. The person the citizen intends to be arrested will probably over react because the “arresting citizen” is not seen as a officer and the situation will escalate. All citizens have a right to defend themselves, others and their property. Going beyond that, will only subject yourself to liability.
Call the Police!