What is a citizen’s arrest & its penal code in California?

Performing A Citizen’s Arrest in California

There is one thing people in California can do when they witness a crime. They can perform a citizen’s arrest. A citizen’s arrest can be performed by someone who is not a law enforcement officer. A citizen of California has a legal right to place a person under arrest who has committed a crime. People want to know how does the citizen’s arrest works.

Citizen’s arrest Law in California

It’s important to know when can your citizens arrest. The rights and responsibilities of a citizen’s arrest are covered under California Penal Code 837 PC. Certain criteria must be met for this to be legal. This is when citizen arrest is applicable.

*The citizen making the arrest must know, or have a reason to believe, the suspect committed a misdemeanor or felony.

*They must have directly witnessed the other person committing or trying to commit a misdemeanor or felony.

Bail Bonds

A citizen’s arrest can be judged as legal. The arrested person may then be arrested by law enforcement and sent to jail. At this time, they will have a bond hearing to determine if they qualify for a bond. If they are unable to afford the bond, they will be given an opportunity to utilize the services of a bail bond company.

Criminal Offenses

It is not legal to make a citizen’s arrest for an infraction. The law requires people performing a citizen’s arrest to also be a witness in the case. There is a significant difference between a felony, misdemeanor, and infraction. An infraction is things a citizen gets a ticket for when they have broken the law. These are things like traffic infractions and more. Misdemeanors are offenses that are more serious than an infraction. This could be drunk driving cases, petty theft as well as certain types of drug possession cases. Felonies are the most serious type of criminal offense. This includes robbery, murder, rape, and more.

Why Make A Citizen’s Arrest?

Just because someone sees criminal activity, it does not mean they should take action. There are individuals, such as security guards, who have an expectation of making a citizen’s arrest. It’s important to know when can your citizens arrested. In the majority of cases, people should simply contact the police. Many criminals, all about knife laws and especially those committing violent felonies, will probably be armed and willing to fight back against any citizen trying to arrest them.


There are certain procedures a person must follow for a citizen’s arrest to be lawful. People should know how does the citizen’s arrest works.
*Don’t delay when the situation occurs. A person could lose the authority to execute a citizen’s arrest.
*The person performing the arrest should inform the person they are arresting them and that it is a citizen’s arrest.
*Tell the person being arrested the reason for it.
*A person needs to inform the person they are arresting they have the authority to perform a citizen’s arrest.
*Immediately contact the police or have someone else contact the police as soon as possible.
*Force should never be used.

Wrongful Citizen’s Arrest

Should a person try to perform a citizen’s arrest and not follow the legal requirements, they could experience serious consequences. They could face civil or criminal liability for their actions. This happens under certain circumstances.
*The person utilized excessive force during the arrest.
*The arrested person did not commit a crime.
*There was no reasonable justification to believe a person committed a crime.

Avoid Use Of Force

During a citizen’s arrest, the use of force should be avoided. If this is not possible, the amount of force utilized should be minimal. It is acceptable for a citizen to use reasonable force to arrest someone who has committed a crime. If the force used was or was not reasonable will be determined once all the facts of a case are obtained.

Perpetrator’s Safety

The safety of the perpetrator needs to be considered. The perpetrator needs to be out of harm’s way. New Laws in California 2018 enforcement should be contacted and the person making the arrest should wait until they arrive. It is legal for a citizen to use reasonable force to prevent an arrested person from fleeing.
Some people believe it is their patriotic duty to defend the law. They may know when citizen arrest is applicable. The majority of people do not want the risks associated with performing a citizen’s arrest. It is easier for most individuals to use their cell phones to call law enforcement as they film a person engaging in illegal behavior.