Is a Citizen's Arrest Legal?
Is a Citizen's Arrest Legal?
By Fabiola Castillo
If you have ever watched Arts & Entertainmentís Dog: The Bounty Hunter on cable TV and wondered how is it that the Dog, Duane Chapman, is allowed to make an arrest? Exactly what is he doing to force an arrest? Under what authority is he making an arrest?
How is he allowed to wear a badge if he himself is a convicted felon?
When the Dogman and his team pursues a suspect out on the streets of the beautiful islands of Hawaii to arrest a bail jumper, he is executing an age-old U.S. law that allows citizens, acting as bounty hunters, to make ďcitizenís arrestsĒ on their suspects. As a bounty hunter, he is a private citizen who acquired a license to work as a bail enforcement agent. For that reason, he is allowed to wear a badge. Furthermore, as a private citizen and not as an employee of a law enforcement agency, he is allowed to make a citizenís arrest to enforce bail.
A citizenís arrest does not necessarily require that you wear a badge and carry a 9 oz. bottle of pepper spray like Duane Chapman does on his TV program. To make a citizenís arrest, you must witness a crime in progress or have witnessed a crime and call police to take down a report. By having police take a report so that THEY can apprehend the perpetrator later, you are, in effect, making a citizenís arrest. You are not detaining the perp yourself by stunning him with your very own Taser gun you bought on the Internet and hogtying him for police to arrive although this CAN happen.
An example of a citizenís arrest is when a department store detective finds on his video camera that a shoplifter is smuggling items into a shopping bag with the intent to leave the store without paying for the items. When the detective accosts the perpetrator, brings them to the security office in the back of the store, and subsequently calls police to take them away, the store detective has made a citizenís arrest.
The store detective, a private citizen, witnessed a crime on the storeís surveillance camera and called police to have the culprit taken to jail. This is a citizenís arrest.
In Duane Chapmanís case, he is using a variation of a citizenís arrest rule. Consider this scenario. A bail jumper is out on bail for a crime he committed and runs the risk of failing to show up for a scheduled court date. Then a bail enforcement agent, Chapman, comes to arrest the jumper and takes them to the local Hawaii jail where authorities await their arrival. Duane Chapman has made a citizenís arrest but an arrest under the authority of the bounty hunter laws of the U.S. Constitution. The fact that he is a licensed bail enforcement agent allows him to handcuff a suspect to detain them.
If you witness a crime, do not attempt to detain the culprit for litigious and safety reasons. You could run the risk of getting arrested yourself if you violate any kidnapping laws. Gather as much information as you can about the crime and the perp to make a police report so that you can do your civic duty of making a citizenís arrest.
Fabiola Castillo is an online marketer for the website NinjaCOPS.com. This virtual store specializes in selling stun guns, kubatons, pepper spray, nunchaku, Air Tasers, home security equipment, and many other self defense products.
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