Stonehaven Community Patrol Statutory Authority to Apprehend Individuals Engaged in Criminal Activity

One of the most frequent questions we’re asked is “Can the Stonehaven Community Patrol ‘Arrest’ individuals that are engaged in criminal activity?”

The answer is “technically” no. North Carolina law does not allow “citizens arrests”.

Instead, North Carolina General Statute (NCGS)15A-404, outlined below, allows private citizens to “detain” individuals engaged in criminal acts.

NCGS 15A-404. Detention of offenders by private persons

(a) No Arrest; Detention Permitted.

No private person may arrest another person except as provided in G.S. 15A-405 (Assistance to law-enforcement officers by private persons to effect arrest or prevent escape). A private person may detain another person as provided in this section.

(b) When Detention Permitted.

A private person may detain {an investigative detention  refers to the holding of a suspect without formal arrest during the investigation of his possible participation in criminal activity (See Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200 (1979))another person when he has probable cause {probable cause is the knowledge of facts and circumstances based on reasonable, trustworthy information sufficient to warrant a prudent person to believe that the suspect has committed an offense (See State v. Beiber, 365 N.C. 162, 712 S.E. 2d 874 (2011))} to believe that the person detained has committed in his presence:

(1) A felony {a felony is an offense punishable by death or imprisonment for more than one year (See 180 So. 717, 718)},

(2) A breach of the peace {a breach of the peace is an offense  embracing a great variety of conduct disturbing, destroying,  or menacing public order and tranquility. It includes not only violent acts but acts and words likely to produce violence in others (See Cantwell v. State of Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 308 (1940)). In its broadest sense the term, breach of the peace, refers to any criminal offense (See Williamson v. U.S., 207 U.S. 425 (1908)). Today, the term, breach of the peace,  is generally used to describe conduct which unreasonably threatens the public peace and which lacks a specific criminal label; by statute such conduct is often called “disorderly conduct” as the specific criminal offense; The term has been defined by state courts as “disturbances of the public peace”, violative of order and decency or decorum (See Newby v. District Court of Woodbury County, 147 N.W. 2d 886, 892 (1967)); And, any violation of any law enacted to preserve peace and good order (See 236 P. 57, 59); It signifies disorderly, dangerous, conduct that is disruptive of public peace (See 150 A. 2d 731, 739)},

(3) A crime involving physical injury to another person, or

(4) A crime involving theft or destruction of property.

(C) Manner of Detention.

The detention must be in a reasonable manner considering the offense involved and the circumstances of the detention.

(d) Period of Detention.

The detention may be no longer than the time required for the earliest of the following:

(1) The determination that no offense has been committed.

(2) Surrender of the person detained  to a law-enforcement officer as provided in subsection (e).

(E) Surrender to Officer

A private person who detains another must immediately notify a law-enforcement officer and must, unless he releases the person earlier as required by subsection (d), surrender the person detained to the law-enforcement officer.

Published on September 9, 2009 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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