In the state of New York, civilians are allowed to make arrests under specific circumstances. The law is quite clear on when and how a civilian can take physical action to detain someone suspected of committing a crime. However, there are also certain ethical considerations that come into play when making an arrest.
Understanding civilian arrests
In some cases, civilians may attempt to make what is known as a “citizen’s arrest.” This is when a civilian attempts to detain a suspect without meeting all the legal criteria for making an arrest, like having a warrant.
According to New York Criminal Procedure Law 140.30 and Penal Law 35.30, a civilian can only make an arrest if they have witnessed a felony being committed or have reasonable cause to believe that a felony has been committed and the person who committed it is still present at the scene. A civilian must also be reasonably certain that calling the police will not stop the commission of the crime or result in injury to themselves or others.
If you find yourself in a situation where you meet all of the above criteria, you can take physical action to detain the suspect until law enforcement arrives. This includes using self-defense mechanisms and restraints such as handcuffs, zip ties or rope. It is important to note that you should only use as much force as necessary to restrain the suspect and prevent them from fleeing – excessive force is never warranted.
Further, it’s advisable to consider the safety of those around you. If possible, try to make the arrest in a public place where other people are present. This will help deter the suspect from fleeing or becoming violent.
The legalities and ethics of civilian arrests in New York can be complex. For instance, if the court later finds the suspect innocent of the crime, the civilian who made the arrest can be sued for false imprisonment. They can also lead to violence or injuries. However, by understanding the law and taking caution when making an arrest, you can help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.