How to make a citizens arrest in Minnesota

How to Make a Citizen’s Arrest in Minnesota – Safely and Legally

A citizen’s arrest is when a private citizen detains someone who has committed a crime in their presence.

This issue was recently discussed on a local Minnesota radio show exploring whether it would be appropriate for an off-duty officer who witnessed a neighbor’s robbery.

While Minnesota law allows citizen’s arrests in certain cases, there are risks and procedures to consider.

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When Can You Make an Arrest?

Per Minnesota statute 629.37, a citizen can arrest someone:

  • For a gross misdemeanor or felony committed or attempted in their presence
  • When the arrestee committed a felony, even if not witnessed
  • With reasonable cause to believe the arrestee committed a felony

So in the radio show example, the off-duty officer likely had grounds to arrest the robber under clause 1 since it was a felony witnessed first-hand.

Proper Detention Procedures

If arresting someone:

  • Verify a crime occurred in your presence
  • Use minimal necessary force
  • State you are making a citizen’s arrest and the reason
  • Restrain only to prevent escape
  • Call 911 immediately
  • Wait for police to take custody

Never transport or book the suspect yourself. Follow any instructions from the arriving officers.

Consider the Risks

While allowed in some cases, citizen’s arrests involve considerable risks that must be weighed carefully. The suspect may physically resist or attempt to flee, causing potential injury to you or bystanders.

You may also face accusations of civil rights violations, false arrest, assault, kidnapping, or other charges for an unlawful arrest.

The suspect could pursue legal action against you in civil court for battery, infringement of rights, or false imprisonment even if criminal charges are not filed by the state.

To minimize risks, it is advisable to call the police first if possible, use absolute minimum restraint necessary, avoid using force beyond preventing escape, and consult an attorney before attempting a citizen’s arrest.

Should you make a citizens arrest in Minnesota?

Citizen’s arrests are legally permitted for certain crimes witnessed first-hand in Minnesota. However, it is safest to report crimes to police rather than take enforcement into your own hands.

If choosing to make an arrest, adhere to proper procedures and understand the legal risks involved. This information is not legal advice and any arrest is at your own risk. I am not an attorney.

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