Things To Assess Before You Attempt A Citizen's Arrest

Wanting to make a citizen's arrest on someone who appears to be breaking the law is often noble—but you need to be sure about what is happening before you jump into action. Some citizen's arrest scenarios can turn out badly for both parties and potentially lead to you facing a charge of assault and battery for forcefully detaining someone and perhaps even hurting him or her. This risk doesn't necessarily mean that you shouldn't intervene if you believe that there's a need, but you need to be extremely cautious before you get involved. Here are some things that you should try to assess before you attempt a citizens' arrest.

Severity Of The Crime

It's a good idea to assess the severity of the crime that the person appears to be committing. If it's extremely severe, such as a bank robbery, you likely don't want to get involved because of the risk of harm to you. However, if the act is extremely minor, you may also want to be cautious about how to proceed. For example, if you were to witness a minor event such as a person littering, and then inform him or her that you're enacting a citizen's arrest, the person may not take you seriously and attempt to continue on his or her way. Feeling slightly embarrassed, you may then forcefully detain the person, and this act could lead to a criminal charge against you.

Your Ability To Control The Situation

You should also try to evaluate how well you expect to be able to control the situation. Ideally, you'll inform someone that you're making a citizen's arrest, and he or she will be accepting of this statement. However, not everyone is so accommodating, and if you start to get resistance, this can quickly escalate the situation. If you're having trouble controlling the suspect, you might do something that crosses the line toward assault and battery, leading to legal problems for you.

Presence Of Witnesses

It's ideal if there can be some witnesses who can support your claim about what the alleged guilty party did, as well as how you handled the citizen's arrest. For example, if the other party were to state that you assaulted him or her, having independent witnesses provide statements that you did not behave inappropriately will help you. If you've been charged with anything related to your decision to make a citizen's arrest, speak to a criminal defense law firm such as Johnson Motinger Greenwood Law Firm.