Citizen's Arrest

Maine has a interesting law that allows for a “private citizen” to make an arrest in certain circumstances.

Maine is duty to retreat as I have pointed out before, unless you have real reason to fear for your life or others.

That said, if someone is threatening you and there was a reason to think they might hurt you, one could attempt a citizens arrest before it got to that point of drawing a weapon.

Now, they could comply, but even police don’t get it that easy. This could also escalate tensions and force a confrontation. Conversely, retreat could embolden someone to attack, also escalating.

Could a citizens arrest ever be a valid desculation strategy, provided proof of said criminal act could be given, such as wearing a body camera?


Thank you @Kage for the opportunity to try and answer this for you.

I do see what your saying, but in my state it would be walking on thin wire. Look for something in your states criminal law about false-imprisonment. [Something similar too]

For instance, If I were to stop that criminal from freely leaving[In Louisiana] it could be considered false imprisonment. Another example, you block a criminal in from leaving with your car…

It would again be a criminal offense. You would have to get a straight answer from @MikeBKY but my response as of now would be if they “willfully” submitted to your citizens arrest but you can’t forcefully make them submit [If that makes any sense at all]


There can always be a difference in what you “can” do and what you “Should” do.

As a non-peace officer, I would use the best form of deescalation and retreat. Leave the area and call LE.


That is one of the biggest points for people to think about when they’re considering their options in a self-defense situation. Knowing what we can do is important, and knowing what we should do to get home safe and sound to our families at the end of the night can be two completely different things.


This is from NH RSA 627:4.

Notice in the opening paragraph “with complete safety”. Hell, I can’t shave in the morning with complete safety. :wink: Puts an interesting spin on my duty to retreat.

III. A person is not justified in using deadly force on another to defend himself or herself or a third person from deadly force by the other if he or she knows that he or she and the third person can, with complete safety:
(a) Retreat from the encounter, except that he or she is not required to retreat if he or she is within his or her dwelling, its curtilage, or anywhere he or she has a right to be, and was not the initial aggressor; or
(b) Surrender property to a person asserting a claim of right thereto; or
© Comply with a demand that he or she abstain from performing an act which he or she is not obliged to perform; nor is the use of deadly force justifiable when, with the purpose of causing death or serious bodily harm, the person has provoked the use of force against himself or herself in the same encounter; or
(d) If he or she is a law enforcement officer or a private person assisting the officer at the officer’s direction and was acting pursuant to RSA 627:5, the person need not retreat.


Yes, false imprisonment is a big factor in citizens arrest. Maine 's false imprisonment law seems lax.

The thread on the convenience store hypothetical got me thinking here. If someone came in with a gun and you draw, this could also be citizens arrest and false imprisonment by holding them there. In some cases, issuing a command before one uses deadly force could be helpful in a court case.

There was another thread on “sympathetic” perpetrators. If a 15 year old child, forced into gang life, robbed a so with a gun, am I comfortable with using violent means first?

There’s also the aftermath of having to fire. PTSD to patrons in the store, potentially being culpable for anything destroyed and potential hearing loss for customers.

If time is of the essence and using your gun is a must, by all means. I want to at least weigh the potential for alternatives.

Biddeford, Maine already had a case where castle doctrine applied. A middle aged African American got life for self-defense of two young thugs. They both had Rap sheets a mile long, but they wouldn’t allow such in court. The victims and friends were all drunk and on drugs, have inconsistent testimony. They moved the trial to Bangor to give him a fair shake.

You can find more on this case on YouTube. It highly transparent in my mind they meant to make an example of him.


I’m with @Dawn, @Fizbin, @Michael1…Personally, I want to go home and would never try a citizens arrest for the threat of getting hurt or yes, even going to jail.




After reading a few pieces about this case, I learned that the convicted man has a past of his own w/LE, including charges for threatening two individuals with murder just 2 or 3 months before this incident. Based on reports, in my unprofessional opinion, he murdered one boy on a sidewalk, the other, manslaughter, at the least. Topic at hand though, I gotta get home the best way I safely can.


Those claims about Rory are unsubstantiated. There was no evidence of an alleged 70s arrest and non found in 1991. In fact, as I recall, those “crimes” weren’t allowed to be used at his trial. He was tried as if he had no past from what I read. While I’m no expert, my dad has an associates in law and an alleged felons having a gun for self defense would not be inadmissible, suggesting it never happened. His lawyer had been described as unhinged about him and reprimanded for it. The hearsay stories that float around about him are crazy. All of that, in my mind, leads toward him being made an example. Maine isn’t big on diligence.

As for topic, I understand that. Keep in mind, Maine 's self defense law removes the window of defense of they comply with a command, suggesting that, unless it is split second, one has to attempt to halt the crime in progress. Therefore, it would seem reasonable to suggest “stop” and “you’re under citizens arrest” would be equivocal.

C. However, a person is not justified in using deadly force as provided in paragraph A if:

(1) With the intent to cause physical harm to another, the person provokes such other person to use unlawful deadly force against anyone;

(2) The person knows that the person against whom the unlawful deadly force is directed intentionally and unlawfully provoked the use of such force; or

(3) The person knows that the person or a 3rd person can, with complete safety:

(a) Retreat from the encounter, except that the person or the 3rd person is not required to retreat if the person or the 3rd person is in the person’s dwelling place and was not the initial aggressor;

(b) Surrender property to a person asserting a colorable claim of right thereto; or

© Comply with a demand that the person abstain from performing an act that the person is not obliged to perform. [PL 2007, c. 173, §24 (AMD).]

The most confusing part of this law. Non-force use of sexual harassment by certain minority classes is no justification for self defense. how is one a “victim” if they’re using sexual harassment? What this implies is weird. See below:

  1. A person is not justified in using force against another based solely on the discovery of, knowledge about or potential disclosure of the victim’s actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation, including under circumstances in which the victim made an unwanted nonforcible romantic or sexual advance toward the person or in which the person and victim dated or had a romantic or sexual relationship.

[PL 2019, c. 462, §2 (NEW).]


Well @Kage, we all saw how it ended up working for Gommer back in Mayberry…

I’ll side with the others in saying it’s probably not a good idea, and one I would most likely never attempt. But interesting idea all the same.


110% understandable.


Glad I’m in Georgia :slightly_smiling_face:


Beautiful and fantastic state. Went through it as a child when my family went to Florida to visit Disney. Remarkably beautiful place!


Thanks, I like it too. Maine is on my travel list, beautiful area.


:joy: :rofl: :joy:


In CA we can conduct a citizens arrest, when I was a guard we would conduct these.

Yet personally I wouldn’t even want to touch it as what has been pointed out for risk of catching a charge of false arrest/imprisonment.

Law enforcement has the ability to detain and release. Private citizens not so much, so as I said I wouldn’t risk it.


Interesting. If there is a duty to retreat, why would the law say… ‘or anywhere he or she has a right to be…’
If I have a right to be at the grocery store, or in the parking lot, I would or would not have a duty to retreat?
Why I like no duty to retreat states, it makes it easier.

It is true, we do not defend ‘property’, but this sounds like a lawyer (and no offense to lawyers…or not all of them), wrote this. If you ‘assert a claim of right’ to property, even if it belongs to another, do you get to have it?

And some ask why people get confused with the mish mash of state laws.


Here is an example. Let’s say I broke into your house. You confront me with a firearm. Under most self-defense rules, if you point a gun at me I would be justified in using deadly force. In the case where I broke into your house, I’m not in a place I have a right to be. Even though you, as the homeowner, are pointing a firearm at me, I don’t have the right to self-defense.

In this case, let’s say I am repossessing your car. I am asserting a claim of right to your property. Even if the car is parked in your driveway, your curtilage in the statute, you can’t use deadly force even if the person doing the repossession is armed.

And to cover my backside, I am not a lawyer, though I am fascinated by the law. These are just some examples that were provided by an attorney who presented a firearms law seminar I attended.


With respect to the original issue, without addressing a duty to retreat, It appears Maine’s citizen arrest law is very generous. In fact, it is very similar to Kentucky’s warrantless arrest law for law enforcement officers.
The general dangers of citizens arrest is the possibility of facing civil or criminal proceedings for either false arrest or kidnapping or both. If you you are wrong about your probable cause, then your arrest would be a false arrest. If you falsely arrest someone and then move them, even a short distance, you may have also committed a kidnapping. And, unlike law enforcement, you do not have the luxury of qualified immunity should you be wrong.