If you place a police officer under citizen's arrest, does that officer still hold the authority to arrest you?


1 Answer 1


While it is from a different jurisdiction, the following goes to the heart of the matter:

Arrest, when used in its ordinary and natural sense, means the apprehension of a person or the deprivation of a person's liberty. The question whether the person is under arrest or not depends not on the legality of the arrest, but on whether the person has been deprived of personal liberty of movement.

Directorate of Enforcement v Deepak Mahajan, (1994) 3 SCC 440 at ¶46 (SC of India)

In your example, the police officer has been deprived of "personal liberty of movement"; if they can still speak there would be no legal impediment to them placing the person who arrested them also under arrest.

It would then be incumbent on both parties to deliver each other into lawful custody. The citizen would need to seek out a law enforcement officer to do this; the police officer has already done so, being their own law enforcement officer.

After this, comes the paperwork.

  • 5
    In other words, it sounds like "might makes right" until somebody with more authority (or more might) says otherwise? I.e., the more determined party is going to drag the other before a court, and the judge will decide for both who will be held and for what.
    – feetwet
    Oct 6, 2015 at 0:43
  • @feetwet Not a judge, a law enforcement officer - anyone can arrest anyone - to be legally detained they must be placed in the custody of a policeman, FBI agent, Military Police etc. whoever has the legal authority of detention. That person can then decide if charges will be laid or the arrestee will be released.
    – Dale M
    Oct 6, 2015 at 1:21
  • Could you elaborate on that? All roads must go through a law enforcement officer? Even if one fears that those immediately available would be less-than-perfectly-objective in such a scenario? So if one manages to arrest a police officer, who promptly declares the arresting citizen to be "under arrest," the citizen would be guilty of a crime if he detained the cop until he could be delivered to a court marshal or some law enforcement officer of an independent agency?
    – feetwet
    Oct 6, 2015 at 1:44
  • 2
    @feetwet Many states say that someone who has been subject to citizens arrest must be immediately delivered to the custody of an LEO, or an LEO must be called to take custody. Commonly, that LEO can then release the arrestee, since citizens get things wrong from time to time. Of course, if you try disarming a cop, they will resist and call for backup, so you're already going to be swarmed with other cops anyways (assuming you even manage to get them actually arrested, which is nontrivial).
    – cpast
    Oct 6, 2015 at 2:58
  • Yeah, sounds like in the best scenario this wouldn't play out especially well for the non-LEO citizen. I wonder if there are any real-world examples?
    – feetwet
    Oct 6, 2015 at 12:53

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