Q: Can you explain a citizen's arrest, and can you be charged with resisting a citizen's arrest?
WHAT IS A CITIZEN'S ARREST?
Private individuals have the authority to make a "citizen's arrest" to detain someone they reasonably suspect of committing a felony crime. The crime does not need to occur in their presence as long as a felony was actually committed by the person. If a felony crime did not in fact occur, then the individual making the citizen's arrest could be civilly and criminally liable.
People cannot make a citizen's arrest for misdemeanor offenses unless the crime involves a "breach of peace." Even with a breach of peace, individuals can only make a misdemeanor citizen's arrest when they have personally observed the criminal behavior and the breach has just happened or it is highly likely the breach will continue.
CAN YOU BE CHARGED FOR RESISTING A CITIZEN'S ARREST?
It is not necessarily a crime to resist a citizen's arrest, but doing so can trigger assault charges if the resisting party assaults the person lawfully applying force to make the citizen's arrest. Unlike with law enforcement arrests, there is no duty to comply with the arrest if resisting can be done without committing assault.
MAKING A CITIZEN'S ARREST IS DANGEROUS
Anyone making a citizen's arrest does so at their own risk. Apprehending criminals in inherently dangerous, especially when you are not a uniformed, armed peace officer. Failing to meet the legal requirements for the arrest can also have serious legal consequences for the citizen making the arrests.
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