My morning show co-host, Adam, and I were discussing a moral dilemma topic the other day, and the idea of a citizen's arrest came into play. The moral dilemma we were discussing:

You're an off-duty police officer. You've been drinking, but there is a commotion outside --someone is robbing your neighbor's house. Do you: A: Attempt an arrest? B: Call for backup, knowing it will likely be too late. 

Tough choice, but it was the hypothetical situation we found ourselves in. Neither of us are police officers, or have any sort of law enforcement training, but we have in the past heard of citizen's arrests being made. Which prompted the question, would a citizen's arrest be a possibility in this fake situation?

Some light Google searching brought up the Minnesota statute that deals with citizen's arrests:


A private person may arrest another:

(1) for a public offense committed or attempted in the arresting person's presence;

(2) when the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in the arresting person's presence; or

(3) when a felony has in fact been committed, and the arresting person has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

So if you think you have grounds for making a citizen's arrest, how would you go about doing it? The best resource I have found on the execution of this process is actually from the Canadian Department of Justice, of course, that isn't America or Minnesota so rules may differ, but this was a clear concise process and an interesting read.

A Wisconsin law office also offered some helpful advice:

When attempting a citizen’s arrest, it’s best to make certain police are called first. Then you can detain the person until police arrive. You’re best off if you can restrain the person with words only, though you are allowed to physically hold the individual if needed.

They also warned of some legal issues that might come from you making a citizen's arrest. The Fourth Amendment restricts unreasonable searches and seizures, and you could be prosecuted for depriving someone of their constitutional rights. You could also face a civil lawsuit for battery, assault, or false imprisonment. Yikes.

I think I'm going to leave the crime-stopping to our local law enforcement officers.

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