Man arrested in hand cuffs

Citizens’ Arrest Laws

Movies and television will often depict a person chastising another with a citizen’s arrest. Although this concept might seem far-fetched, it is a viable way to stop a suspect from injuring or damaging a person or property. As a citizen, it’s important to understand the citizen’s arrest.

If a situation arises that warrants this action, a person can quickly assess and secure the area.

Call the Police First

Before anyone attempts a citizen’s arrest, call the police first. Although a good Samaritan might have innocent intentions, the suspect may be more dangerous than first thought. A citizen’s arrest might escalate into a verbal or physical confrontation. In most cases, the citizen should place the suspect under arrest and wait for law enforcement officials. The idea behind a citizen’s arrest is simply helping the community to stay safe. If the suspect runs off after a person declares a citizen’s arrest, witnesses can only offer information on the situation when officers arrive.

When It’s Appropriate to Act

A citizen’s arrest can only happen during a few specific circumstances. A witness may have just seen a crime taking place, for example. Whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony, a citizen’s arrest can still be made. If the suspect is hurting himself or herself or damaging property, an arrest is warranted. In fact, it’s possible to arrest a person who has yet to commit the crime. If they just broke a window at a local store, the suspect’s intentions are apparent that they’re about to rob the building. Using a citizen’s arrest in this case might stop a major burglary from occurring.

Communication With the Suspect

Although the suspect is breaking the law, that fact doesn’t mean that a witness can misbehave as well. It’s critical for the witness to announce their intentions as he or she approaches the suspect. Announcing that the suspect is under citizen’s arrest is enough to stop the person in their tracks. Tell the suspect that the police are on their way and to remain still. In many cases, this startling occurrence will cause the suspect to simply wait in place. Although citizens’ arrests were common hundreds of years ago, they’re surprising in today’s modern world.

Keep Witnesses Nearby

A suspect might be startled by the citizen’s arrest, but his or her reaction time may recover quickly. Before a witness announces an arrest, other witnesses should remain in the area. In fact, cellphones and tablets can be used as makeshift cameras. With a constant recording on the suspect, they may be less inclined to run off, damage property or injury anyone. These videos can be used by police afterward so witnesses should remain in the area even after the official arrest. This valuable information can bring the suspect to justice.

Cooperate With Police

After a citizen’s arrest, the witness and suspect should be taken to the police station. The suspect will be booked and placed before a judge. Depending on the circumstances, the suspect will have bail set. That person will need to have a friend work with a bail bondsman before a release can be scheduled. Several hundred or thousand dollars might be necessary for the bail to be completed. In contrast, the witness simply has to give an official statement to the police before going home. Witnesses willing to help law enforcement officials are always held in high regard.

Attend Every Court Proceeding

A witness performing a citizen’s arrest is part of the suspect’s history at this point. If any court proceedings come up for the suspect, it’s a smart idea to have the witness in attendance. That person can testify about the facts of the case so that the truth is known across every legal platform. The suspect might receive a plea bargain or go to a trial jury. The witness may need to testify several times, but the effort is worth the safety it brings to a community.

Every situation is unique so it’s important to observe the circumstances before acting. If an assailant has a weapon, a citizen’s arrest may not be possible. Ideally, no one should be hurt during these specialized arrest situations. In the end, citizens may have to wait for the police before a situation can be secured.

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