Citizen's Arrest

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 12:14pm
Citizens Arrest

A citizens arrest in Oklahoma occurs when a person who is not a law enforcement officer arrests another citizen for a crime.  (Here is a tip: never do this, it can get you killed, or arrested if you happen to be incorrect, especially unreasonably incorrect, or if a prosecutor decides you have used unreasonable force to make the arrest.  If you need somebody arrested for a crime call the cops instead.)

The statute that governs a citizens arrest in Oklahoma is 22 O.S. §202 and it says:

A private person may arrest another:

1. For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence.

2. When the person arrested has committed a felony although not in his presence.

3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and he has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

The next section says that the citizen making the arrest has to give the reason for the arrest and demand that they submit:

He must, before making the arrest, inform the person to be arrested of the cause thereof, and require him to submit, except when he is in actual commission of the offense or when he is arrested on pursuit immediately after its commission.

The next section even says that the private person can force entry to make an arrest for a felony, here it is:

If the person to be arrested has committed a felony, and a private person, after notice of the intention to make the arrest, be refused admittance, the private person may break open an outer or inner door or window of the dwelling house of the person to be arrested, for the purpose of making the arrest.

Once a citizen arrests another he is obligated to take the arrested person directly to a magistrate or peace officer:

A private person who has arrested another for the commission of a public offense, must, without unnecessary delay, take him before a magistrate or deliver him to a peace officer.

The arresting citizen is obligated to remove all offensive weapons from the arrested person and give them to the magristrate or peace officer:

Any person making an arrest must take from the person arrested all offensive weapons which he may have about his person, and must deliver them to the magistrate before whom he is taken.

Amazingly, if the arrested person escapes, the arresting citizen may pursue him statewide:

If a person arrested escape or be rescued, the person from whose custody he escaped or was rescued, may immediately pursue and retake him, at any time, and in any place in the state.

Again, if the escapee holes up the arrestor after having pursued him statewide may break into the residence:

To take the person escaping or rescued, the person pursuing may, after notice of his intention and refusal of admittance, break open an outer or inner door or window of a dwelling house.

So, noting again that a private citizen should almost never do any of this, why am I here blogging about it?  Well, the truth is that this actually comes up alot for cops.  A county sheriff, for example, has no authority to arrest people outside of his county.  But he can make arrests on the same basis as a private citizen outside his usual jurisdiction.

A recent case, approved a police officer out of his jurisdiction (on his way home after his shift) using his lights and sirens to arrest a drunk driver and hand her over to the local PD.  Her trial judge quashed the arrest, but the Court of Criminal Appeals overruled the trial judge and reinstated the charge.  Cops aren't usually supposed to use their lights, sirens, and other indications of lawful authority in making a citizens arrest, but the Court of Criminal Appeals indicated that they could do so to halt dangerous activity.  The drunk driver had crossed several lanes of traffic alarming the PD officer and that was enough.  

So, can you be arrested by a cop way outside their jurisdiction.  Absolutely you can.

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