Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. What are the rules in making a citizens arrest? I know this is a gray area with many opinions about it. Are there specific procedures etc.? Can someone restrain another while waiting for authorities?
Dear Juneau Resident,
The law about citizen's arrest is actually not very complicated but its interpretation can be all over the map. Basically a citizen can arrest for a crime committed or attempted in his or her presence, or a felony on reasonable cause. The entire law, Alaska Statute 12.25.030, is at the end of this answer.
The really tricky area, as you imply, is use of force while making the arrest. A person making an arrest can only use the level of force they reasonably believe is necessary. Whenever you see the word 'reasonable' or some variation of that in the law, you might end up standing in front of a person in a black robe who tells you if the court or a jury agrees with your definition of behaving 'reasonably'.
Check Alaska Statute 11.81.390 for more information on use of force by a private citizen while making an arrest.
Grounds for arrest by private person or peace officer without warrant.
(a) A private person or a peace officer without a warrant may arrest a person
(1) for a crime committed or attempted in the presence of the person making the arrest;
(2) when the person has committed a felony, although not in the presence of the person making the arrest;
(3) when a felony has in fact been committed, and the person making the arrest has reasonable cause for believing the person to have committed it.
(b) In addition to the authority granted by (a) of this section, a peace officer
(1) shall make an arrest under the circumstances described in AS 18.65.530;
(2) without a warrant may arrest a person if the officer has probable cause to believe the person has, either in or outside the presence of the officer,
(A) committed a crime involving domestic violence, whether the crime is a felony or a misdemeanor; in this subparagraph, "crime involving domestic violence" has the meaning given in AS 18.66.990 ;
(B) committed the crime of violating a protective order in violation of AS 11.56.740 ; or
(C) violated a condition of release imposed under AS 12.30.025 or 12.30.027;
(3) without a warrant may arrest a person when the peace officer has reasonable cause for believing that the person has
(A) committed a crime under or violated conditions imposed as part of the person's release before trial on misdemeanor charges brought under AS 11.41.270 ;
(B) violated AS 04.16.050 or an ordinance with similar elements; however, unless there is a lawful reason for further detention, a person who is under the age of 18 and who has been arrested for violating AS 04.16.050 or an ordinance with similar elements shall be cited for the offense and released to the person's parent, guardian, or legal custodian; or
(C) violated conditions imposed as part of the person's release before trial on felony charges brought under AS 11.41.410 - 11.41.458.