Q: What is the law (simplified) for Alabama citizens to detain/arrest another?
I would give you a simplified answer if I could, but most questions about legal matters are not simple, and citizen's arrests are no exception. First, consider this warning found in a legal encyclopedia called Corpus Juris Secondum:
"[a] citizen's arrest or attempted arrest can create a dangerous situation, and one who attempts it does so at his peril," 6A C.J.S. Arrest § 12, at 20 (1975).
And I will warn you that people have been sued for having tried to arrest someone as a citizen's arrest, only to have it turn out that a citizen's arrest was improper under the circumstances, making them liable in damages to the person they tried to arrest. Not only that, but citizen's arrests have the potential to become violent, and people attempting citizen's arrests have found themselves charged with and convicted of crimes.
Now if having read all that, you still want to try it, here's the Alabama statute on citizen's arrests:
Section 15-10-7 of the Code of Alabama reads as follows:
Arrests by private persons.
(a) A private person may arrest another for any public offense:
(1) Committed in his presence;
(2) Where a felony has been committed, though not in his presence, by the person arrested; or
(3) Where a felony has been committed and he has reasonable cause to believe that the person arrested committed it.
(b) An arrest for felony may be made by a private person on any day and at any time.
(c) A private person must, at the time of the arrest, inform the person to be arrested of the cause thereof, except when such person is in the actual commission of an offense, or arrested on pursuit.
(d) If he is refused admittance, after notice of his intention, and the person to be arrested has committed a felony, he may break open an outer or inner door or window of a dwelling house.
(e) It is the duty of any private person, having arrested another for the commission of any public offense, to take him without unnecessary delay before a judge or magistrate, or to deliver him to some one of the officers specified in Section 15-10-1, who must forthwith take him before a judge or magistrate.
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