In the United States, a citizens arrest is valid in any case where an individual (not a policeman, investigator, or licensed official) witnesses a crime being committed. It is permitted to hold the person who committed the crime in a sort of custody, whether it be physical restraint or simply remaining with them while calling the police as soon as possible.
By the common code of citizen’s arrest, an accused criminal may also be subjected to this type of detention if the person who is holding/detaining them knows that they have committed a crime at a previous time. For example, if upon viewing California warrants, it is apparent that someone has a felony on their record or is a wanted suspect, a citizen’s arrest may be made until the proper authorities are present.
Some legal limitations you should be aware of
A citizen’s arrest cannot involve any of the following:
- Pulling an individual over while driving
- Using excessive or needless force
- Attempting to use handcuffs/read Miranda rights, as it is not within the jurisdiction of an unlicensed person to do these things.
A citizen’s arrest could not detain a supposed criminal from fleeing across state lines. Only a valid arrest warrant – one issued by the police and put on official record – can be transferred from state to state or kept on a permanent record.
It is also important to bear in mind that official California arrest records will not include any arrest made by citizens only by a police officer.
Overall, this concept of everyday vigilance towards crime is indeed legal in all states, but it is important to remember that it is not a legally binding incarceration, and it is performed completely at the risk of the individual, as they may incur bodily harm or police charges of their own if they do not follow the guidelines set in place for these types of situations.