Citizen's Arrest

A citizen’s arrest is an arrest made by any person instead of by a police officer. In tort law, a citizen's arrest is something that any person can do without being held civilly liable for interfering with another person’s interests when that interference would otherwise constitute assault, battery, and false imprisonment. This means that any person can physically detain another in order to arrest them, but state statutes define the limited circumstances in which this deprivation of liberty is allowed. 

  • In Texas, the citizen’s arrest statute states that any person may arrest someone that is committing a felony or an offense against the public peace in front of them. 
  • In Illinois, the citizen’s arrest statute states that any person may arrest someone when they have reasonable grounds to believe that that person is committing an offense. However, this statute makes an exception for ordinance violations, saying that a person may not arrest another person for such a violation. 

In general, the ability to perform a citizen’s arrest is the same for a regular person as it is for a police officer without a warrant

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]