December 18, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

In a recent California Appellate Court decision, the court determined that a person who is being subjected to a “citizen’s arrest” may use self-defense if he or she reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of excessive force by the arresting citizen.

A citizen’s arrest is an arrest made by a person who is not acting as a sworn law-enforcement official. For example, a citizen’s arrest would occur when your neighbor, who is not a sworn law-enforcement official, takes you into custody for stealing his lawnmower. A citizen has the right to do this if he or she reasonable believes that you, in fact, did steal the lawnmower.

In People v. Adams, the defendant was subjected to a citizen’s arrest in which he resisted with force. He was then charged with a crime for assaulting the person who had attempted to place him under citizen’s arrest. The court ruled that an individual who is subjected to a citizen’s arrest has a right to use self-defense not only when excessive force is being applied to him, but also when he reasonably believes that a threat of bodily injury or unlawful touching is imminent, even if the threat does not in fact exist.

It is important to contact a criminal defense attorney who can provide clarity in terms of your rights. If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime in California, contact the experienced Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today at 1-888-280-6839 or for a consultation of your case. We can help you.

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