Citizens’ Arrests – Posse Comitatus

Although states have their own laws and specifics that apply to a citizen’s arrest, in the United States private individuals have the authority to make an arrest, even without a warrant. These are called Citizen’s Arrests, or CA. An example might be if you see someone stealing a purse, you may on your own initiative detain the person stealing the purse. But there are lots of particulars you should know before you try.  Here’s what you need to know across all the States.

  • You may only use the amount of force that is reasonable and necessary to make an arrest… And that is on a case by case basis
  • If you use excessive force you may be subject to criminal prosecution and there could be a civil liability.
  • if you use deadly force and do not comply with the state law, you could be charged with manslaughter or murder.
  • In many States, you must witness the crime and it must be a felony.
  • In some States, if you are aware of the crime you may make a citizens arrest
  • Some States require that you assist law enforcement, but if you do, the constitutional rights of the arrested individual arrested must be protected.. Otherwise, guess what? You may be sued or prosecuted… so think twice before slapping those cuffs on, Barney!