Citizen's Arrest

From iWiki

A citizen's arrest refers to the apprehension or detention of an individual by a private citizen instead of a law enforcement officer. It allows individuals to take limited law enforcement actions in specific situations where they witness a crime being committed or have reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has taken place. The concept of citizen's arrest varies across different jurisdictions, with specific laws and regulations governing its application and limitations.

Legal Basis

The legal basis for citizen's arrest is rooted in the principle that individuals have a responsibility to uphold the law and assist in maintaining public order. Laws regarding citizen's arrest empower private citizens to take action when they have witnessed a crime and believe it is necessary to prevent the suspect from escaping or causing harm.

Comparison of Laws in Different Countries

United States

In the United States, laws governing citizen's arrest vary by state. Generally, the right to make a citizen's arrest exists when a felony has been committed in the presence of the arresting individual. Some states also allow citizen's arrests for certain misdemeanours. However, the laws and limitations surrounding citizen's arrest can differ, and individuals should familiarize themselves with the specific laws of their state.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, citizen's arrest is governed by common law. Citizens have the authority to make an arrest if they witness a person committing an indictable offense or if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is involved in the commission of such an offense. The use of force in effecting the arrest must be reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances.


In Canada, the power of citizen's arrest is regulated under the Criminal Code. It allows individuals to arrest someone in the act of committing an indictable offense or someone whom they believe, on reasonable grounds, has committed an indictable offense. However, the arresting individual must deliver the arrested person to a peace officer as soon as possible.


In Australia, laws regarding citizen's arrest vary by state and territory. Generally, individuals have the power to make a citizen's arrest when they witness an individual committing an offense that carries a penalty of imprisonment. However, the use of force must be reasonable and necessary in the circumstances, and the arrested person must be handed over to the police without delay.


In Germany, citizen's arrest is known as "Jedermann-Festnahme" (everyone's arrest). It allows individuals to make an arrest when they witness someone committing a crime punishable by imprisonment. The use of force must be proportionate, and the arrested person must be handed over to the police as soon as possible.


In France, citizen's arrest is referred to as "arrestation citoyenne." Citizens have the right to apprehend an individual who is caught in the act of committing a crime or who is fleeing after committing a crime. The arrested person must be handed over to law enforcement authorities promptly.


In India, citizen's arrest is recognized under the Code of Criminal Procedure. It allows any person to arrest another person without a warrant if they have committed a non-bailable offense or if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed such an offense. The arrested person must be handed over to the nearest police officer.

Other Countries

Laws regarding citizen's arrest exist in various forms in many other countries. The specific legal provisions, requirements, and limitations can differ significantly. It is essential to consult the laws of the respective country to understand the scope and procedures related to citizen's arrest.

Limitations and Considerations

While citizen's arrest empowers individuals to take action in certain circumstances, it is crucial to understand the limitations and considerations associated with this practice. Some common limitations include:

  • The arresting individual must have witnessed the crime or have reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has occurred.
  • The use of force must be proportionate and reasonable in apprehending the suspect.
  • The arrested person should be handed over to law enforcement authorities as soon as practicable.
  • Immunity from legal liability may not apply if the arrest is carried out unlawfully or maliciously.

It is advisable for individuals to exercise caution and prioritize personal safety when considering a citizen's arrest. Contacting the relevant authorities and cooperating with law enforcement is generally the recommended course of action in most situations.

See Also