Some of you may have heard about Crystal City Texas where all but one of the elected officials were arrested all at once. Those arrests were made by the FBI.
We know from experience that the FBI here is not going to do anything to protect us from corruption, nor are the Federal Marshal’s who are a department of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Basically we are on our own.
What would justify a citizens arrest in Washington state?
There are two possibilities in this case: Felony citizen’s arrest and Misdemeanor citizen’s arrest.
1) Commission of a felony when the arresting person has “probable cause” to believe the arrestee committed the felony. (Make sure it was committed, not about-to-be or in-progress.) This means you don’t have to actually see the crime, you just have to have probable cause, what a REASONABLE person would believe to be true, that the arrestee committed the felony.
2) Alternatively, commission of a misdemeanor that is done a) in the presence of the arresting person AND b) constitutes a breach of the peace (Washington CPP: “A breach of peace ordinarily involves some actual or potential disturbance of public order and tranquillity, or conduct which tends to provoke or incite others to violence.”) This can be a gray area, so don’t just arrest somebody for shouting in the street.
In all cases, if time permits, it’s better to call the police to arrest the individual, and be a “good witness” rather than a “citizen cop.” Sometimes, though, time does not permit, and you must make a good faith effort. I suggest you look up “delegating arrest authority to police”, “use of force in arrests”, and what constitutes likely felonies and misdemeanors in Washington state.
How do you perform a citizens arrest?
You must inform the person they are under arrest, and what they are accused of. You may use force to detain them only if they resist and the amount of force cannot be excessive, nor is may you use force on then after they cease resistance.
Once the person is detained you must contact the authorities and release the prisoner to them as soon as possible. In additon you must make sure any possessions of the prisoner are handed over undamaged to the proper authorities. (ie the police)
You are not required to read them their rights nor do you have to allow them to contact legal counsel. This is the job of the police. However you can do this is you wish.
Making a citizen’s arrest can be dangerous and it is not the best way to go about things, especially when you are dealing with a violent or well connected person (yes that even includes snitches)
If you do know of blatant corruption and could ever (dream the impossible dream) get the FBI to do something here is a short primer from Solutions Institute on how to do it. Keep in mind that Washington doesn’t have any explicit laws set forth for citizen’s arrest, it falls within the State Constitution and Civil Laws but all US Citizens have the right to affect a citizen’s arrest no matter what state.
1. Know the grounds for arrest.
Citizen’s arrests, or arrests by a “private person” are protected in all 50 states, and the District of Columbia. Though by and large this right to perform temporary arrests is respected in every state, the grounds for that arrest vary widely depending on the state you live in. Up until last week, there was no database of citizen’s arrest laws by state anywhere on the internet. So we created one. This is a list of every state citizen’s arrest statute in the United States, complete with accompanying information such as Attorney General opinions, judicial rules, and corresponding case law.
The statutes vary in authority and protection from California’s, which protects a citizen from legal action when they make an arrest for any public offense committed in their presence, to Ohio’s, which specifically requires a felony to be committed in the citizen’s presence in order for a citizen’s arrest to be legal. Some popular restrictions include:
a. “In their presence.” This restriction requires a citizen’s arrest to be made immediately after the criminal action was committed in the person’s physical presence. i.e. one cannot see an offense committed in their presence, and then arrest that person days later.
b. “Require the person’s immediate arrest.” This restriction restricts private persons from making an arrest if that arrest would not prevent another crime, loss of life, or loss of property from immediately happening. Thus, while you might be able to arrest a Montana councilwoman before they sign a document illegally taking property, you would not be able to do it after, a the circumstances no longer require their immediate arrest.
c. “Misdemeanor breach of the peace.” Significantly different from a misdemeanor, a misdemeanor breach of the peace requires a disruption of public order. That definition varies by state, but persons attempting arrests under this restriction should be sure that their actions could be argued to either punish a current or prevent a future disruption of public peace.
d. “Felony.” This is the most popular restriction, present in almost half of the state statutes we reviewed. It requires a felony to have been committed in the private person’s presence before they can make an arrest.
You can review your state statutes here. If your state does not have a statute, it is governed by common law, allowing for arrests of felonies and misdemeanors. However, since case law in some states has reduced this to felonies only, we recommend only making an arrest when you know a felony has been committed if your state does not have a statutes to the contrary.
2. Know the punishments for the crime you’re attempting an arrest for.
If your state requires a felony to be committed, ensure that before you make an arrest, a felony has been committed. As a good rule of thumb, if you need to make a heat of the moment decision, violent crimes are almost always felonies. If you can, consult an attorney in your state for advice before attempting an arrest, but at the very least consult your state’s criminal code.
3. Know the risks.
Citizens are granted far less legal protection than peace officers in arrest situations. Whereas if a peace officer reasonable believes someone has committed a crime, and it is later found that they did not, the officer was considered to being doing their job, a private person can face a civil lawsuit for false imprisonment. If the citizen uses physical force, they can face assault charges and more. If at all possible, do not use physical force, or try to restrain a public official you have placed under arrest. Citizen’s arrests can make a powerful statement that you will not allow elected officials to act as an elite class. However, ensure you are within the law so you don’t bring harm down on yourself.
4. Bring multiple recording devices.
In court, and the media, both an officer and a public official’s testimony is going to be considered far more credible than yours. However, a camera or other recording can turn the tables. Bring multiple recording devices to cover your interaction, and it will not only garner you public support, but help defeat a lawsuit from the now disgraced politician.
5. When making the arrest, have a copy of the relevant statutes in hand, and do it politely.
Unlike an officer, who will be justified in both the courts and the court of public opinion for using rough language, force, and other taboos for private persons during an arrest, you will not have that luxury. Although in the heat of the moment it may not always be possible to have copies of the law on hand, try to have a citizens arrest statute handy every time you attend a public meeting, or meet with a public official in any capacity.
Further, be polite, Note how, in the video above, the Watchdogs politely informed the board that they should submit to custody, pointed out who needed to submit to that arrest, and did so in a clear, concise manner.
6. Clearly state that the subject is under citizen’s arrest, and why, then immediately call 911 to hand them over to law enforcement.
In almost every state (except North Carolina, where you must call it a “detention”) a private person making an arrest must inform the arrestee(s) that they are subject to arrest, the reasons for that, and immediately hand them over to law enforcement personnel. For your safety, as well, call 911 immediately after the arrest to hand the subject over.
7. Publicize the arrest.
Grab a sample press release here, and take news of your successful corruption-busting arrest to your local newspaper, TV stations, and social media. Things like this make headlines and garner you the public support necessary to ensure that the citizen’s arrest not only results in charges, but forces your local, state, and federal officials to finally clean up their act.
Now go bust some corruption.
What I suggest is simply filing a citizens complaint to a police agency: I am hoping by now that most of you realize that most of my stories here deal with the illegal activities of city, county, state, and federal actors, employees or elected. Most beginning and ending at the Washington State Bar Association.
G. Geoffrey Gibbs committed perjury on his application and oath as a mediator where he explicitly wrote that he had never been charged or convicted of a crime, when the Washington State Attorney General filed charges against him, convicted him, then attached his resources when he refused to pay his fines. He was also investigated by the Public Disclosure Commission. So he filed a false instrument, lied under oath
Perjury 9A.72.010 Definitions.
9A.72.020 Perjury in the first degree.