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Making an Arrest

The Suspect

According to our legal system, a person is innocent until proven guilty. It is up to the court to decide if a person is guilty – not the police, not the district attorney, and not a private person. When a person is arrested, that person is called a suspect. The person is then considered a suspect until the court finds the person guilty or innocent. Therefore, do not refer to an arrested person as the “criminal,” “offender,” “robber,” “murderer,” “burglar,” or by any other term which implies guilt. You can say “he,” “she,” “they,” “this person,” or “the suspect” since none of these terms imply guilt.

Making an Arrest

If you should happen to be in a situation where a citizen arrest is called for, you should tell the person that he/she is under citizen’s arrest and what the charges are, and your authority to make the citizen’s arrest. Once you say “You are under arrest for burglary,” the suspect may or may not cooperate. If the suspect resists and tries to escape, you must then decide whether or not to use reasonable force. You may ask as many persons as you think necessary to help you in making the arrest.

Use of Force in an Arrest

If a suspect resists arrest, you are allowed to use reasonable force to subdue the suspect. Reasonable force is that degree of force that is not excessive and is appropriate in protecting oneself or one’s property. If the suspect submits willingly, no force is necessary. If a suspect should resist arrest, remember that the only force allowed is that which is reasonable and necessary to overcome the resistance.

What is Excessive Force?

Examples of excessive force include knocking unconscious an unarmed suspect when he is only trying to leave the scene. Handcuffs may be used on persons who have resisted or on suspects you think may be trying to resist or escape.

What is Detainment?

A person who voluntarily responds to questioning and is not actually restrained (i.e., free to go at any time) is considered to be detained. A person may be detained by the police for further questioning in an investigation, and that person is not necessarily under arrest. The police have the authority to detain a person against his/her will and still not arrest that person. Security guard/proprietary private security officers do not have the authority to detain a person against their will except under Penal Code Section 490.5, which is covered in detail further on in the study manual. (MERCHANTS PRIVILEGE RULE, PART L)

When Is A Suspect Considered To Be Under Arrest?

It should be clear to the suspect that he/she is under arrest after you have told the suspect of your intention, cause, and authority to arrest him/her. However, there are also other actions that may make a suspect feel he/she is under arrest. If, because of your uniform, badge, hat, or verbal actions, the suspect concludes he/she must answer your questions or is not free to walk away, he/she may justifiably claim he was under arrest.