Who can legally make a citizen’s arrest in Minnesota?
Many laws regarding citizen’s arrest have their roots back in medieval England where sheriffs encouraged the ordinary citizen to arrest people breaking the law and bring them to the sheriff for prosecution. Many states in the U.S. —including Minnesota—adopted this concept from English Common Law and codified them into statutes that lay out the specifics of when an arrest by a private citizen is authorized. Current events, such as very recent the conviction of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers in Georgia, have left many wondering where their state stands on citizen’s arrest.
So, does Minnesota have laws allowing citizen’s arrest? They do!
Minnesota passed a law allowing citizen’s arrest in 1905, and the law hasn’t changed much in the past 117 years. In Minnesota, the law allows a private citizen to arrest another under three circumstances:
- For a public offense committed or attempted in the private citizen’s presence,
- (A “public offense” includes all violations punishable by fine or imprisonment, including petty misdemeanors.)
- When the person arrested has committed a felony, even if it wasn’t in the arresting person’s presence, or
- When a felony has in fact been committed, and the arresting person has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested was the one who committed it.
- Circumstance #2 requires knowledge that the person arrested committed a felony, even if it wasn’t done in front of the private citizen.
- Circumstance #3 only requires the private citizen to know that a felony was committed and have reasonable cause, but not absolute certainty, to think that the person they are arresting is the one who did it.
When making a citizen’s arrest, the law requires that the private citizen inform the person being arrested of the reason for arrest. This is the case unless the person is arrested while committing the act or during immediate pursuit after the act has been committed. The private citizen can even break down doors or windows of someone’s house to make an arrest, but only if the arrested person has committed a felony, the citizen informs them of their intent to arrest, and they are not allowed to enter the house.
Once a citizen makes an arrest, they must take the person before a peace officer, like the police, or before a judge without unnecessary delay and fill out a citizen’s arrest form.
As with many criminal matters, the legal challenges surrounding citizen’s arrest are nuanced. If you feel that you can raise the defense of citizen’s arrest, reach out to one of the attorneys at Brandt Kettwick Defense.