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What To Do If Someone Attempts To Citizen’s Arrest You

On Behalf of | Sep 11, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Texas state law allows individuals to make an arrest if they witness a crime. Those who find themselves the subject of a citizen’s arrest have the same rights as when police conduct an arrest, particularly the right to remain silent. A citizen making an arrest cannot conduct an investigation. The citizen’s arrest is only legal if the citizen actually witnessed the crime.

It is also important to note that citizen’s arrests are only legal in limited situations. In Texas, the alleged crime must be a felony or one against the public peace. Citizen’s arrests are not legal for misdemeanor offenses.

How does a citizen’s arrest work?

The process is like that used by a police officer making a regular arrest without a warrant, but with an extra step: anyone conducting a citizen’s arrest must immediately contact the actual police. If an individual making a citizen’s arrest uses or attempts to use excessive force, the victim can likely hold that citizen accountable for the harm.

Depending on the details of the situation, the citizen’s arrest could result in a true arrest and criminal charges.

Was I the subject of a citizen’s arrest?

Anyone who was temporarily detained by another person based on allegations they committed a crime was likely the subject of a citizen’s arrest. This can occur through a regular individual or another posing as an officer. Unfortunately, some may abuse this power. It is wise to beware of vigilantes and people attempting to impersonate police, as these may constitute a serious threat.

What are my options if a citizen wrongfully arrested me?

In addition to the threat of criminal charges for kidnapping and assault, those who were the subject of a wrongful citizen’s arrest have some legal recourse. It is often possible to file a lawsuit against that individual. This can result in funds to compensate for the violation of your constitutional rights as well as additional monetary awards to cover any medical expenses if injured during the incident and missed wages if the arrest or resulting injuries led to an inability to get to work.