Citizens arrest in Florida


Like many other states, Florida follows common law regarding citizen's arrest. Under Florida law, an average citizen can detain another indvidual until law enforcement arrives. However, this is only if they witness or have reasonable belief that the individual committed a felony.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Ralph you're on News 96.5, go ahead.

Ralph: Hi, I was wondering what the law is when you make a citizen's arrest order, what is the procedure and even if it's advisable?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well have you ever watched Mayberry RFD, Andy Griffith Show? Because their party makes the citizens arrests and as far as I know that's exactly the way it's supposed to go down.

Ralph: Yes, well you're dating yourself. But yes, I did see those shows.

Attorney Tom Olsen: I wonder how many people out there have seen The Andy Griffith Show where Barney is making a citizen's arrest.

Ralph: You yell it loud. Citizen arrest, citizen arrest.

Attorney Tom Olsen: I don't know if there is such a thing as a citizen's arrest.

Ralph: Really? Okay.

Attorney Tom Olsen:  Really. I mean, what makes you think that there is?

Ralph: Well, you always hear about it. That's all good. I always assumed that was true but I know there's all types of bleeping liabilities, I don't need even know if it's advisable. But I was in a shopping center and someone who's walking off with a shopping cart, obviously a destitute person, and I yelled at them to bring it back and they looked at me like I was an idiot.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well there's a good situation. Now one thing we know that you can't do Ralph, is to pull out a gun and shoot them. Certainly you know that, right?

Ralph: Right.

Attorney Tom Olsen: There's a question. You see somebody shoplifting, is it up to you or can you legally try and stop that person. I'm not so sure legally you can do such a thing, Ralph, but from a practical point of view we know you probably just should not do it, it's just not wise. Ralph, thank you for bringing that topic to our attention. I find it interesting, I just don't know much about it, and if somebody out there listening does, hey, we'd love to hear from you.