Citizen's Arrest--Standards (2023)

August 21, 1998 98-R-0959

FROM: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

RE: Citizen's Arrest--Standards

You asked whether our law limits a person's authority to make a citizen's arrest to offenses that occur in the citizen's presence. As you know the Office of Legislative Research is not authorized to give legal opinions and this report should not be considered one.

Based on the language used in several court cases, our law allows a citizen to make an arrest if the offense occurs in his presence. Unfortunately, few Connecticut cases deal with the authority of a citizen to make an arrest and the cases are old. Also, we could not find a Connecticut case that explicitly turned on the issue of whether the offense had to occur in the citizen's presence for him to be able to legally make the arrest. Thus, it is not clear whether this is an absolute prerequisite under all circumstances.

The authority of a citizen to make an arrest is from our common law (judge made). Although a statute deals with citizen arrests, it establishes rules for when a citizen can use force or deadly force; it does not appear to independently confer any authority to actually make the arrest.

The leading case appears to be Malley v. Lane, 97 Conn. 133 (1921). The Supreme Court held that a person in whose presence another commits a misdemeanor theft may, without a warrant, arrest or detain the accused until a police officer arrives. An earlier case established the right of the owners of stolen goods, and those acting with the owner's authority, to pursue and arrest the thief without a warrant (Wrexford v. Smith, 2 Root 171 (1795)). In a relatively recent case, a Superior Court judge restated the common law rule that a citizen can make an arrest or prevent the escape of one whom he has observed committing a felony or a misdemeanor (State v. Ghiloni, 35 Conn. Sup. 570 (1978)).

Under the common law rule still in effect in many jurisdictions, a private person may arrest without a warrant in a felony case if (1) the felony has actually been committed and (2) he has reasonable grounds for believing that the person he arrests committed it. Under this rule, if no felony has been committed an arrest without a warrant by a private person is illegal (5 AmJur 2d Arrest, § 58). This rule has been modified in some jurisdictions to uphold an arrest if the private citizen had reasonable grounds for believing that a crime had been committed and the arrested person was guilty even though it was subsequently shown that no felony had been committed (Burton v. McNeil, 13 SE 2d 10 (South Carolina); also see 133 ALR 603).

The relevant Connecticut statute is CGS § 53a-22. It authorizes a private person to use reasonable physical force when and to the extent he reasonably believes it is necessary to make an arrest of someone he reasonably believes has committed an offense and who has in fact committed the offense. He may use deadly force only if he reasonably believes the other person is (1) using or about to use deadly physical force or (2) inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm. But he may not do so if he knows he can avoid using force with complete safety by (1) retreating unless he is in his dwelling or place of work and was not the initial aggression; (2) surrendering property to a person claiming he has a right to it; or (3) complying with a demand that he abstain from performing an act he is not obligated to perform (see CGS § 53a-19).



What happens if someone calls the police on you and you leave? ›

Regardless of why you left, officers generally will look for you if they have an idea of where you are and it is close. They will often search the immediate geographic vicinity of a crime scene, as they do not want to leave only to have someone return, and reengage an alleged victim or have evidence destroyed.

What happens if a US citizen commits a crime in another country? ›

Ask a Lawyer a Question

If you commit a serious crime overseas, there is a high probability that you will be extradited. Extradition is the process in which one nation or state surrenders a suspected criminal to another nation or state.

Is it ok not to answer a cop if you are talking to them and they are questioning you? ›

Do I have to answer questions asked by law enforcement officers? No. You have the constitutional right to remain silent. In general, you do not have to talk to law enforcement officers (or anyone else), even if you do not feel free to walk away from the officer, you are arrested, or you are in jail.

Can I call the police on someone who won't leave me alone? ›

If a lodger in California refuses to leave after 30 days, they can be kicked out without going through a court-ordered eviction process, because after the 30-day mark, they are officially trespassing. At this point, you could call the police.

Can a US citizen be deported for a crime? ›

The two main categories of crimes that can put you at risk of being deported are aggravated felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude. The Immigration and Nationality Act also enumerates certain crimes that serve as independent grounds of deportation, even if they are not classified in one of those two categories.

Can your U.S. citizenship be revoked if you commit a crime? ›

At a Glance: Under normal circumstances, U.S. citizenship cannot be easily lost. Exceptions include voluntary relinquishment, wrongful acquisition, or forceful denaturalization. Denaturalization is rare and usually occurs if a person commits serious crimes against the U.S. such as fraud.

Can you flee the country to avoid jail? ›

If someone is suspected of committing a crime, they may try and leave the country to avoid a trial or punishment. However, if they go to a country that has an extradition agreement with the United States, they may find themselves turned over to U.S. custody.

Can you walk away from a police officer? ›

Can I Walk Away From a Police Officer? Unless a police officer has probable cause to make an arrest, reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop and frisk, or a warrant, a person generally has the legal right to walk away from the officer.

Do cops have to say yes if you ask them if he's a cop? ›

When police officers are working undercover, they are legally allowed to lie about anything, including their identity. So, if a person asks an undercover police officer whether he is a cop, he or she can lie and say they are not a cop.

Can you talk rude to a police officer? ›

To be clear, there isn't a law that specifically forbids yelling, swearing or otherwise being rude to a law enforcement officer – as long as you're not threatening to harm them or someone else. This is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Can police evict Airbnb guest? ›

If they can show some proof of tenancy to the police such as utility bills – whether true or falsified – the authorities won't remove them. You may have to start a formal eviction process. In the home-sharing economy, short-term guests don't hold leases.

Can a police officer pull you over for a reason or in the absence of one in Canada? ›

Police officers can stop you under three general circumstances: 1. If they suspect that you have committed a crime 2. If they see you committing a crime 3. If you are driving.

Can I call the cops on my roommate for drugs? ›

Unless you are selling drugs to your roommate, or buying drugs from your roommate, the police are not interested in you getting high. Of course the roommate will have to get arrested for being a party for the drug transaction unless they are a paid nark looking to reduce their drug charges.

What are 3 ways to lose citizenship? ›

You may lose your U.S. citizenship in specific cases, including if you:
  • Run for public office in a foreign country (under certain conditions)
  • Enter military service in a foreign country (under certain conditions)
  • Apply for citizenship in a foreign country with the intention of giving up U.S. citizenship.

Can I be deported if I have a child born in the US? ›

At a Glance: If a child is born in the U.S., they automatically become a U.S. citizen. However, the parents' citizenship status is separate from that of their child. Parents who are undocumented or overstayed their visa can still be deported, despite their child's citizenship.

Can a 10 year green card be revoked? ›

Green Cards can be revoked for a multitude of reasons, some of which include: Violation of US criminal or civil laws. Excessive time spent outside the US for a Green Card holder. Instances of fraud or misrepresentation.

What crimes make you lose citizenship? ›

Two types of crime result in an automatic and permanent bar to citizenship – murder, and aggravated felony for which you were convicted after November 29, 1990. These crimes also result in deportation.

Does a felon lose citizenship? ›

Permanent Bars Based on Criminal Convictions

You will be permanently barred from obtaining U.S. citizenship if you have been convicted of murder or of an aggravated felony if the conviction was issued on or after November 29, 1990.

What happens if you lie about being a US citizen? ›

No matter what you do, you should not lie on your citizenship or naturalization application. If you lie, misrepresent facts or conceal information on your citizenship application, you could face serious penalties, including criminal charges, loss of citizenship (called denaturalization) and deportation.

Has the US ever extradited a citizen? ›

Prior to the 1940's, the United States did not extradite it's citizens to other foreign jurisdictions. However, all this changed in 1990 when Congress created new legislation that allowed for extradition of U.S. citizens as long as the terms of the treaty between the requesting country and the United States were met.

Where do most fugitives hide? ›

10 hideout cities for fugitives
  • Tianjin, China. ...
  • Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. ...
  • Salvador, Brazil. ...
  • St. ...
  • Escaldes-Engordany, Andorra. ...
  • Macau, China. ...
  • Andorra la Vella, Andorra. ...
  • “American Greed: The Fugitives”
Nov 21, 2013

What country can us not extradite from? ›

There are a significant number of countries that do not have extradition treaties with the United States, including Afghanistan, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Some of these countries also have no diplomatic relations with the United States, which further complicates the issue of extradition.

Can you find out who called police on you? ›

Calls to the police are a matter of public record. You can ask the police officer who comes to your door who called. If they know, they will try to figure out if it's best to tell you. If they don't; they will tell you it was anonymous.

Is it a crime to talk back to a police officer? ›

It's protected under free speech. A cop can't arrest you for saying it, but they can and have made life miserable for such offenders.

What happens if you call the cops then hang up? ›

If you do hang up, they will call you back to confirm that you are safe. If no one answers the attempted call back, the Law Enforcement Officers will be dispatched to your location to ascertain the nature of the call.

What happens if you talk back to the police? ›

Can the officer arrest you just for being rude or talking back to them? Yes, they can, but no, they shouldn't. While it isn't necessarily the best idea to mouth off to a police officer, doing so is not in and of itself a crime and should not result in you being arrested or charged.

Can police listen to your phone calls? ›

Yes, the authorities can obtain access to your phone and eavesdrop on your phone calls. However, the state of California has strict laws regarding police listening to phone calls, so it is important to know and fully understand these laws.

Can local police listen to your phone calls? ›

The law enforcement officials have to prove probable cause to believe that listening to your conversations will help them with a serious crime. This can include terrorism, money laundering, or drug trafficking. Police may also seek a warrant to obtain location information through cellphone data.

How do you tell if you're being set up by police? ›

Confirming Physical Surveillance
  1. a person being somewhere he has no purpose being or for doing something he has no reason to be doing (blatant poor demeanor) or something more subtle.
  2. moving when the target moves.
  3. communicating when the target moves.
  4. avoiding eye contact with the target.
  5. making sudden turns or stops.
Sep 1, 2022

Is it illegal to tell a cop to shut up? ›

Freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, so non-threatening verbal abuse of a police officer is not in itself criminal behavior, though some courts have disagreed on what constitutes protected speech in this regard.

Can a police officer cuss at you? ›

Though many police officers may use profanity (sometimes referred to as “tactical language”) as an additional use of force tool, its use may lead to increased risk to the officer by way of subject retaliation or backlash from the public due to a perception that the officer is “out of control” (Baseheart & Cox, 1993).

Is it illegal to insult a police officer in us? ›

Insulting someone is not illegal anywhere in this country. In fact, insulting someone is an act that is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Can you call a cop whatever you want? ›

Technically, yes. You have a first amendment right to free speech and free expression. That means you can tell a cop exactly what's on your mind and, provided you do it in a civil manner and do not cause a public disturbance, it should be a protected form of expression.

Will police come if you accidentally call 911? ›

What should I do if I accidentally dial 911? If you dial 911 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 911 when no emergency exists, do not hang up – that could make 911 officials think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.

What happens if you call 911 and say nothing? ›

If you hang up without saying anything, a dispatcher will call back to confirm that there is no emergency. If you don't answer, a police officer will be sent to your location to confirm that you are okay.

Why you shouldn't talk to police without a lawyer? ›

No and no. You should never talk to the police without first consulting with an attorney. Police officers are trained to obtain confessions, admissions and inconsistencies. If you are innocent, law enforcement can use inconsistencies in your statements as evidence of guilt.

How do you deal with a rude police officer? ›

How To Deal With Confrontational Cops
  1. Say as Little as Possible & Don't Admit Anything.
  2. Exhibit Non-Aggressive Behavior & Speech.
  3. Demonstrate Respect.
  4. If you Must Get Mad, Do it Later!
  5. Next step: contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney.

Why would the police call me and not leave a message? ›

Yes police officers will do that, and the reason they will do that is because they want to confront you with something however they do not want to know ahead of time what it is about so that you can formulate an excuse, or draft up an intelligent answer.

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