North Carolina courts, the courts of other states, and Federal courts have repeatedly held that a private citizens have legal authority to apprehend and detain individuals who are engaged in criminal activities. Some of these holdings (cases) are listed below:
Backun v. U.S, 112 F.2d 635 (4th Cir. 1940)
Every citizen is under moral obligation to prevent the commission of felonies, if possible, and has a legal right to use force to prevent their commission and to arrest the perpetrator without a warrant
State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E.2d 100 (1954)
Private citizen may arrest anyone who, in his presence, is actually committing, or threatening to commit, a breach of the peace when the breach is within the meaning of that statute and if offender’s conduct, under surrounding facts and circumstances, is such that reasonably justifies a belief that a perpetration of an offense amounting to a breach of the peace is imminent.
State v. Blackwelder, 182 N.C. 899, 109 S.E. 644 (1921)
Where person heard his garage door creak, and on going out, found the door open, he was warranted in arresting person in vicinity for an attempt to steal a car therein, and that without a warrant.
Neal v. Joyner, 89 N.C. 287 (1883)
Private citizen may arrest without a warrant where felony is committed in his presence when he acts upon reasonable grounds for believing that the arrested party is guilty.
State v. Bryant, 65 N.C. 327 (1871)
Private person may arrest for a felony when it appears that it is necessary, for want of a peace officer or otherwise, that he should do so to prevent the escape of the felon.
State v. Tappe, 139 N.C. App. 33, 533 S.E.2d 262 (2000)
To justify a warrantless arrest, it is not necessary to show that the offense was actually committed; all that is necessary is that the person making the arrest has a reasonable ground to believe it was committed.
Harmon v. Buchanan, 164 F.Supp. 2d 649 (2001)
The standard for measuring reasonableness of an arrest is wholly objective. Subjective bad intentions do not make a constitutional violation out of an otherwise reasonable seizure.
State v. Gilreath, 118 N.C. App. 200, 454 S.E.2d (1995)
Private citizen #1 was statutorily authorized to detain another citizen (#2) for purposes of determining whether that citizen(#2) was acting in self-defense when he shot another citizen (burglar), where citizen #2 received telephone call from his daughter indicating that someone was breaking into her house, call was then cut-off, causing citizen #2 to go to daughter’s house where he interrupted 2 persons (burglars) who were taking components of an entertainment center from his daughter’s home and found himself in direct path of the burglars vehicle as they tried to escape; from such facts, it could be inferred that citizen #2had cause to believe that felony burglary was being committed in his presence and that the burglars vehicle posed substantial threat of injury to him (citizen #2).
Karadi v. Jenkins, 7 Fed. Appx. 185 (2001)
Decision that probable cause for a warrantless arrest is present is reviewed under a “totality of the circumstances test”.
State v. Tripp, 9 N.C. App. 518, 176 S.E.2d 892 (1970)
Citizens right to arrest for an affray or breach of the peace exists while it is continuing or immediately after it has been committed.
People v. Reisner, 295 N.Y.S. 813, 162 Misc. 470
A citizens arrest is as binding as an arrest by a police officer.
Montgomery v. U.S., 403 F.2d 605 (8th Cir. 1968)
The general rule, unless changed by statute, is that it is both the right and duty of a citizen who is present when a felony is committed, or who reasonably believes a crime has been committed, in his presence to arrest the offender without a warrant.
Richardson v. United States, 217 F.2d 696 (8 Cir. 1954); State v. Parker, 378 S.W.2d 274 (Mo.App.1964); State v. Parker, 335 Mo. 916, 199 S.W.2d 338, 340 (1947); State v. Peters, 242 S.W. 894 (Mo.1922); Hanser v. Bieber, 271 Mo. 326, 197 S.W. 68 (1917); Pandjiris v. Hartman, 196 Mo. 539, 94 S.W. 270 (1906).
Huffaker v. Bucks Co. District Attorney’s Office, 758 F.Supp. 287 (1973)
The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee that only the guilty will be arrested.
State v. Weddell, 118 Nev. 206, 43 P.3d 987 (2002)
A citizen may use any amount of force that is reasonable and necessary when apprehending criminal offenders.
Ward v. United States, 316 F.2d 113, 118 (9 Cir. 1963)
A search incident to a lawful citizen’s arrest is valid.
Wion v. United States, 325 F.2d 420 (1963), Patrick v. State, 164 Tex.Cr.R. 584, 301 S.W.2d 138 (1957); Galbraith v. State, 184 So.2d 633 (Miss.1966).
Theriault v. United States, 401 F.2d 79 (8 Cir. 1968).
When an arrest is made during the commission of a crime the circumstances do not dictate, nor should the law impose, unreasonable formalities on those apprehending the offender(s).