Citizen’s Arrest – on grounds that (1) a public offense was committed in their presence, or (2) they have reasonable cause to believe suspect committed a felony

     This page is continued from Criminal Proceedings >>>> 1. The Arrest, and Search and Seizure >>>> Various Forms of Lawful Arrests >>>> Warrantless Arrests:


citizen’s arrest:

1. An arrest of a private person by another private person on grounds that

(1) a public offense was committed in the arrester’s presence, or
(2) the arrester has reasonable cause to believe that the arrestee has committed a felony.

1. An arrest made by a person other than a police officer.  A citizen’s arrest is legal under certain circumstances. [2]

   Each state has some way that a “Citizen’s Arrest” can be performed; for instance, California Penal Code section 837 reads:

A private person may arrest another:

1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his/her presence.

2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in his presence.

3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he or she has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

   According to 2012 Supreme Court ruling The State of Ohio v. Mbodji, in order for a ‘Citizen’s Arrest’ to be performed legally:

   “A citizen ‘may file an affidavit charging the offense committed with a reviewing official for the purpose of review to determine if a complaint should be filed by the prosecuting attorney.‘  A ‘reviewing official’ is a judge, a prosecuting attorney, or a magistrate.

     The following is a famous scene from The Andy Griffith Show where Gomer performs a Citizen’s Arrest:


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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