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The basics of a citizen's arrest

Everyone has heard of a citizen's arrest, but have you ever witnessed one? Do you know of anyone who has ever made a citizen's arrest? This is a real thing that citizens are allowed to do. But, is it something you should actually consider doing? Are you worried about the legal implications? Could you be accused of false imprisonment if you try to make a citizen's arrest? Let's take a look at the citizen's arrest so you have a clear picture.

Was there a necessity for the citizen's arrest? There needs to be one of four important reasons for the arrest to be present in order for the arrest to be considered necessary:

  1. Prevent someone from suffering physical harm from the subject
  2. Prevent the subject from harming themselves or someone else
  3. Preventing the subject from leaving before a police officer can take control of the scene
  4. Preventing loss or harm to property

A reason for the arrest must be identified before a citizen's arrest can be made. In basic terms, the citizen must believe that a police officer cannot reasonably make the arrest. For example, it is believed that the subject will wind up fleeing the scene of a crime before the police arrive.

If a person tries to arrest you outside of these circumstances, they could very well be held liable for battery and false imprisonment.

False imprisonment is an issue that many New Yorkers deal with each year. It's possible that you could claim false imprisonment if you are ever arrested as part of a citizen's arrest. Make sure you know your rights and how to protect them in such a situation.

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Sivin & Miller, LLP Attorneys at Law
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