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Citizens Arrest

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What About A Citizen’s Arrest?

The power to make a citizen’s arrest or to be arrested by a citizen still remains in New Zealand.  It is part of our Crimes Act 1961  

Basically,  a citizen’s arrest can be made for anyone committing any crime at night, or anyone committing a crime punishable by more than three years imprisonment as a maximum penalty during the day.

You have to be very careful in exercising your rights as a citizen to make an arrest.

It is far better to retreat and call the Police but if you saw some one committing a fairly major crime then you can arrest them and use reasonable force to hold them provided that you deliver them to a Police Officer as soon as possible.

But you must take care!           

If you saw some one shoplifting at night then that is the crime of theft and you would be able to arrest them. But if you saw some one shoplifting during the day then you would have to stop and consider the value of the item that was being stolen.

If it was less than $300 then the thief is only liable to up to three months imprisonment.

If the value was between $300 - $1000 then the thief is liable to only 12 months imprisonment. If the value of the item stolen was more than $1000 then the thief is liable to up to 7 years imprisonment.

Consequently, you could only use a citizen’s power of arrest if the thief was stealing something over $300.

However, if the theft was theft as a servant, or out of a car or a receptacle such as a locked box then the maximum penalty is seven years imprisonment and the arrest can be made by a citizen at any time of the day or night.

It is a complicated procedure. You should know that you have this power. You should know that this power can be exercised against you.

But do not exercise such a power yourself unless you are absolutely certain that it is the right thing to do.

If you can retreat and summons Police interven

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Feedback/Reviews/Blogs
"What do you do if you actually arrest someone?
David K - Timaru.

Netlaw replies - You must deliver that person forthwith to a Police officer. You must not use unreasonable force."

Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Arms Act 1983
"I find this topic really helpful as well as all the topics under the "Weekend Arrest" topic. This is the sort of basic informatin which needs to be taught in schools. Don't you agree?"
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"Well set out and helpful. I now know just how far you can, and cannot go. I was amazed that you cannot "strike" someone if you are only defending yourself as opposed to your property. Good stuff Netlaw! James W. Auckland May 2006"
"Yes . . . interesting. Trev, Bay of Plenty. April 2006"
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"I was looking round Google to find something about representing myself and I found this and a number of your topics SPOT ON. Thanks. This one was great! Jon F. Auckland - May 2007"
"Thanks Netlaw. Rolf - Auckland"
Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Arms Act 1983
"Is it possible to get a discharge without conviction on a dangerous driving or reckless driving charge? Thanks

Netlaw replies: Yes, it is possible, but very difficult. There would have to be very special reasons like driving in an emergency situation."

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"Has the law now changed? You used to be able to apply for a disqualification removal after 6 months of any disqualification. Dave H. - Albany

NETLAW replies: Yes. That ability has now gone. You need to read this topic carefully and note that there has been a law change,"

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"I found all your criminal law topics fascinating. I may become a criminal myself just to use your site. Nah, only joking but I liked Self Defence, Citizens Arrest and Drink Driving and Demerit Points.

Henk - Waikato"

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"WOW . . . a great site. This topic alone is worth the entry fee. I also did my own will and had it checked by a lawyer neighbour and he said it was perfectly OK. Matt G."
"I agree heaps. I actually followed this topic to the letter and got my limited licencemyself. It took a couple of weeks but reckon it could be done in a week. Everything you said happened. The cops were good and the judge was very nice. I only had to mumble "thank you". Noel G.
"

"Received phone call from the police today, they have told me they will NOT oppose anything set out in my limited licence application. They were very impressed that I had done all the work myself. Thanks NETLaw - Jake, Christchurch.

Netlaw replies: Thank you for teling us. We have had a similar letter from Auckland Central."

Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Arms Act 1983
"I was looking round Google to find something about representing myself and I found this and a number of your topics SPOT ON. Thanks. This one was great! Jon F. Auckland - May 2007"
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"Great stuff. Helped me understand the police powers. Also good stuff on other criminal law topics. Manu - Papatoetoe"
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"Dear Netlaw . . . it was really helpful to realise the difficultes in getting suppression of name and to get some of the caselaw. It allowed me to prepare a lot better. I had a silly shoplifting case but I am in my early thirties and I really wanted name suppression. You guys really helped. Also, you other sites are dazzling. Becs (not my real name)
"

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