Have citizens arrests ever resulted in trials?

Loach is right. This varies by state. In my state, as in Loach’s, anyone who is a peace officer has their full powers anywhere in the state. There is an agreement with a neighboring state that allows an officer in pursuit to complete an arrest in that neighboring state if they pursue across the border. But no such agreements exist inside the state because they don’t need them.

Can you please provide a cite that the judge declined to put a particular offence to the jury? Because I’ve not seen that anywhere.

In Toronto, Canada there was a famous case where the owners of the Lucky Moose grocery store forcibly detained a person who they suspected of shoplifting on a previous occasion. They were charged with assault and forcible confinement but acquitted at trial.

Apparently the Criminal Code was later amended in reaction to the case.

Was that considered a citizen’s arrest? I didn’t see it called as such in the article. Are the recent airline cases of passengers being duct taped to their seats citizen’s arrests? Can you make a citizen’s arrest for a federal crime?

US laws differ so much I don’t think I would get physically involved unless I was sure of what the law was in that jurisdiction. I also wouldn’t get involved unless someone was in danger.

Remember that you don’t have the same protections as police for false arrest or civil liability. Even if you are acquitted in court, that’s a lot of time and money down the drain.

That makes sense as an underlying legal construct. But, it’s a long way from Joe Stupid next door arresting me because I kicked his dog (a hypothetical).

The terminology used in the article is essentially irrelevant–in fact my experience is journalists rarely use the term “citizen’s arrest” and them using the term doesn’t serve as “magic words” that turn something into a citizen’s arrest; it is a legal concept and occurs regardless of what a journalist writes about it–it is common for journalists to write that people “subdued” or “detained” the criminal, but less common they use the “magic words” “citizen’s arrest”. It was a group of non-police officers who subdued and detained a person for committing a crime. Nothing could more clearly be a citizen’s arrest.

I’m not looking for a fight over “magic words”. I wanted to know if a citizen’s arrest is legal for a federal crime. I was under the impression that crimes committed on airlines are all federal crimes.

With the mishmash of state laws in the US, in some states you do indeed need to tell the person they are under citizen’s arrest and what for. And in some states you can arrest someone on suspicion of committing a felony, but you better be sure because if you are wrong you can be charged with false arrest and imprisonment as well as a civil suit. That’s why I asked about federal laws.

I just saw on MSNBC that the Georgia Citizens Arrest Law has been repealed. They said it has been repealed in several other states.

Yes, it was repealed, but since it was the law in force at the time, it still applies to the Georgia trial.

In my personal experience private security like this relies on you (general “you”) assuming they have some authority to detain you until the cops show up. They don’t. You can leave.

They have no more authority to detain you than I do. If I said you can’t leave would you obey me? If I say the magic words “citizen’s arrest” will you then obey me?

Probably not.

Exactly. It’s not like when you do a “citizen’s arrest”, you drag them to the jail and book them yourself. It’s more that you’re detaining them in the absence of a law enforcement officer, until such time that you can transfer them into law enforcement custody.

So, if someone flips out and starts hitting people with a tree branch or something, and you tackle them and subdue them, you’ve “citizens arrested” them. The cops will eventually show up and take them to the pokey, and more than likely formally arrest them.

I actually made a citizen’s arrest years ago.

I was working as a campus security officer at the University of Utah and was technically some very low class, untrained “officer,” which meant that under the direct supervision of the campus police, (who were Utah Category 1 Peace Officers with full policing powers), we could do something or other, which was never specified to us.

Our primary job was to lock and unlock door, turn off unnecessary lights and keep out eyes open. We were not allowed to carry weapons of any sort, had no powers to detain people and basically all we did was have brown polyester uniforms with official looking badges.

However, one time, I did catch some college kids running around in a locked building. They had accessed it through some tunnels from another building which they also shouldn’t have had access to. I called dispatch who sent a police officer.

Not having any training, I had them go outside to wait, where the police came and picked them up. These smart ass, 19-year-old kids proceeded to give fake names and dates of birth, annoying the officer to the point where he decided to throw the book at them rather than just give them a warning.

As I had the kids go outside, the officer hadn’t seen them in the building, so he had me arrest the kids, which basically meant I told them they were under arrest and signed the paperwork. Apparently, had I kept them inside the building the officer could have arrested them.

I don’t know what happened after that and I never had to become a witness or anything.

In the three years I worked there while working on my degree, there were a couple of things like that that either I helped with or my colleagues did. Almost always, it was just kids being stupid and nothing really serious.

No, but he explicitly gave them only murder and manslaughter. Obviously “careless use of a firearm” or “criminal negligence causing death” or whatever the Criminal Code words are (Which would presumably flow from his argument that the gun fired by accident) were not an option.Thus the jury had to choose either murder, manslaughter, or not guilty.

The jury began its deliberations on Thursday evening. Chief Justice Martel Popescul told the jurors they have three options: to find Mr. Stanley not guilty, guilty of murder or guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter.

Mr. Burge argued that Mr. Stanley did not know how much ammunition he had loaded in the gun, he ensured it was empty by continually pulling the trigger and believed, wrongly, that if he removed the magazine the firing mechanism would be disabled. “I would suggest that demonstrates the careless nature with which he used this firearm,” Mr. Burge said.

If I’m reading the article right, Burge is the crown attorney. “Crown lawyer Bill Burge”. He said the “accident” story didn’t add up.

If one of your friends or relatives tries to drive drunk, and you forcibly take their keys from them to prevent them from driving illegally, isn’t that technically a “citizens arrest”. You technically have no right to do it but I know certain states have laws allowing you to basically prevent someone from leaving a place if by leaving they would be a direct threat to themselves and others.

Neither of those are lesser included offences to a murder charge.

In many ways legally the words detention and arrest are used is interchangeable. When law enforcement detains you it becomes a de facto arrest which triggers certain case law such as Miranda. But there are legal detentions that a lay person would not consider an arrest even though the law treats it like an arrest when it comes to legal protections. There can be investigative detentions that don’t lead to arrests. Detaining someone in a mental health crisis doesn’t lead to an arrest. Case law about non-arrest detentions are all about the reasonableness of the length of the detention.

In your scenario there has been not crime. There is no such thing as pre-crime arrest in this country (yet). Preventing DWI is not a citizens arrest. To comment more I would have to see the laws you say exist in certain states.

If they witnessed a crime they can arrest you. That’s the whole point of this thread. Citizens arrest does exist although the laws do differ from state to state. If you physically resist them then it goes from a shoplifting to a robbery. So it immediately (in my state) goes from a disorderly persons offense to a 2nd degree crime. 1st degree if certain other factors are present.

We have had some loss prevention actively try to detain. We have had others just note and let them go. Most companies do not want their employees getting into physical confrontations. That’s company policy not a prohibition on citizen arrest.

Yes, and people are convicted of shoplifting all the time.

Crane, Czarcasm, do you actually need a cite to show that people are convicted of shoplifting, which, at least here in CA, starts with a Citizens arrest of sorts by store security or the owner, under “Shopkeepers privilege”.


In CA, generally the Police can not make an arrest for a misdemeanor unless that officer has personally witnessed the offense. Thus, the “shopkeeper” makes the initial arrest, and turns the Perp over to the police.

This is extremely common.

Now, for a felony, the Police do not have to witness the crime, then the citizen is not generally considered to make the “arrest” but is simply detaining the culprit under “clear and present danger to the public safety” until the police arrive and make the actual arrest.

If I meet you and say, “Citizens arrest, you now must wait for the police,” are you now legally obligated to stay there?

If you start to leave am I allowed to use physical force to stop you? If so, are there any limits to how much force I can use?

This sums it up. If you arrest someone, you better be damn sure you have reasonable cause to do so. This is why it is strongly (Strongly!!) advised that you actually witness the crime. And if you use force to detain them, it better be proportional to the crime (much like self-defense laws).

the thing I’ve heard with those places where they want to search you bag as you leave the store is - you can refuse. You can tell them - “you have a choice - call the police, I will wait, and then get sued when the police find nothing, Or get out of my way.” If you initiate physical confrontation or violence, then you are at fault. But if you just push a door or climb over the shopping cart barricade, that’s not you doing anything to them. And if they lay a hand on you without cause, that’s even worse for them if you sue.

The reason most stores have a “don’t get in the way” policy is than often, brazen shoplifters are feeding a drug habit, may be high and erratic and unpredictable. (I read of one case where a clerk tried to stop someone shoplifting an athletic team windbreaker and got her throat slashed.) Management feels nobody’s life or good health is worth a few hundred dollars max. Or more cynically, they are worried about lawsuits and/or workers’ Compensation costs.

The downside of this is the news that Walgrens and Target are closing stores in downtown San Francisco, for example, because the brazen thefts are just too much of a loss. This is compounded by apparent unwillingness of the municipal authorities (or state?) to bother prosecuting these “minor” crimes,