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  1. #1
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    Nov 2009
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    Default Investigative Detention Following a Citizens Arrest

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Michigan.

    I understand in some circumstances an officer may detain a person or persons suspected of commiting a crime as an "investigative detention". I understand in some states a private citizen my lawfully detain a person who commited a crime while awaiting law enforcement. Here's the question, and the scenario that invoked it. Can a private citizen use investigative detention while awaiting the arrival of law enforcement?
    Scenario: A women is in her childs kindergarten classroom volunteering with refreshments for a holiday function. She set her camera (approx value $500.00) down to pick up the juice bottle, turned, and her camera is gone. There are other parents / guardians in the classroom volunteering, so obviously someone in the room took it or saw who took it. If she were to demand that no one enter or leave the room untill police arrive, is this illegal detention or investigative detention?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Investigative Detention / Citizens Arrest

    Quote Quoting medic71
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    There are other parents / guardians in the classroom volunteering, so obviously someone in the room took it or saw who took it. If she were to demand that no one enter or leave the room untill police arrive, is this illegal detention or investigative detention?

    The answer hinges on this as quoted above. It is NOT an "individualized" suspicion, but containment of "everyone" on the compact premises.

    The answer is NO, it is not lawful, by police OR citizen.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Default Re: Investigative Detention / Citizens Arrest

    Not trying to be facetious, is your answer based on case law, statute, or opinion? I recall during a recent episode of CSI that persons appear to have been "detained" at a frat party to be questioned. (Keep in mind, I understand it is fiction - as a medic, I have found similar inaccuracies in medical treatment on this show, as well as House. . . .) I will actually be discussing this incident with school officials tomorrow, and like to be prepared with quotable facts. The incident in and of itself is tertiary to what I feel is a bigger issue: As far as I know, the teacher at the event did not have a list of names of parents / guardians volunteering at the event. To me it represents a lack of control over the classroom causing me to ask, "What if the 'item' stolen had been a child, and not a camera?" No cameras, no list of names, and noone can be detained...

  4. #4
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Investigative Detention / Citizens Arrest

    I am not talking about any supposed MI restraint of liberty statutes, if any exist.

    You stated:

    I understand in some circumstances an officer may detain a person or persons suspected of commiting a crime as an "investigative detention".
    This is on scene detention, known as a Terry Stop, from Terry v. Ohio, 1968. Such requires LESS than probable cause under the 4th AM.

    Jailhouse investigative detention, absent probable cause, is another matter and UNconstitutional.

    In comparative analysis, the excecution of a Search Warrant on the compact premises, inherently carries with it the right to detain ALL there.

    This is Constitutionally different from the case at hand, even if it involved the police.

    I can quote my state laws. A private citizen can ONLY arrest for a felony, however, a restraint of liberty can be effected on an individual who has committed a crime of specific nature. In other words I see a man steal a 10 cent piece of candy, I can not arrest not restrain him of his liberty until police arrive.

    If I arrest for a felony, I must transport the person accused to a person authorized to accept them, a police officer/Judge, ect.

    I can NOT restrain a whole group of people, even when a felony was committed, to await investigation of all by the police.

    Some states permit citizens arrests for even minor crimes, I believe.

    We are talking about a private citizen, so MI laws would have to be looked through, but I can guarantee, if any exists, it does NOT carry with it express or even implied permission to detain everyone there when the theft occured.



    2905.03 Unlawful restraint.

    (A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly restrain another of the other person’s liberty.

    (B) No person, without privilege to do so and with a sexual motivation, shall knowingly restrain another of the other person’s liberty.

    (C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of unlawful restraint, a misdemeanor of the third degree.


    In A, the privilege to do so, that is, detain ALL there, is not that an item was stolen.

    Private seizures are not subject to 4th AM constraints, except in very rare case, and not here as you describe.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Investigative Detention / Citizens Arrest

    You can ASK everyone to stay and await the police, but you cannot compel them to do so. If they were to complain, you could potentially be charged with false imprisonment or a related offense as it applied in your state.

    The police will have a slightly broader power to detain people than an individual would. The police might be able to articulate good cause to detain everyone while they conduct their investigation, but the time frame would have to be reasonable, and they would not be permitted to involuntarily transfer everyone to the station for questioning. I suspect the interviews would be quick as they would likely ask every parent and child if they knew anything about the camera, perhaps ask for consent to search bags and purses, and then let everyone go.

    The private person's powers of arrest tend to be an individualized power of arrest based upon a crime that the person observes. I do not believe that any state gives a person the power to "detain" against another's will, only to arrest. When a store does not file charges against a shoplifter, it tends to be because they argue that the detention was voluntary - with consent - and that no force was applied. if the store has to apply force they would be wise to call the police and articulate the force as an arrest.

    In your scenario, there is no way that the private person could legally force anyone to stay in the room against their will. But, I suppose there is the odd chance that your state has a citizen's detention law ... I can't find it, but maybe something like that exists.

    - Carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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