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Criminal Law

Citizen's Arrest

Negligence Law and Arrest - Duty to the Offender


It is in the very nature of an arrest that the arrested suspect is disempowered and not free to go as they choose. This creates a relationship of dependency in which the suspect needs to be cared for and/or protected in certain ways. While in an enforcer’s custody, the suspect’s basic personal needs should be in focus. If the suspect has any real need, the absence of which would be harmful any way, the person holding them in custody has a duty to ensure that harm does not arise through needs remaining unmet or inadequately met for too long. Needs may take the form of food, water, shelter, clothing, medical treatment, emotional support and reassurance, the presence of a support person of any kind, a telephone to call someone, or any other thing necessary to avoid loss or damage. As to specifically what the suspect needs, your best evidence is what they say, and so, their complaints must be heeded.

The duty of care component of the law of negligence provides that we all must take whatever steps we can to avoid loss or harm arising upon others who should realistically be within our contemplation. There are other aspects to this area of law described in the chapter on negligence that will make pertinent reading on this issue. Significantly the standard of care to be expected is dependent on the circumstances of the arrest. A security guard holding a violent patron under arrest at a public event is not expected to exercise the same standard of care that a nurse is over a hospital patient, nor a hotel staff member in a five-star hotel. Nevertheless, ignoring attestations of encroaching hypothermia, doing nothing to control blood loss, or behaving and talking so at the exacerbate psychological distress as to criminal penalties, are actionable.

See the chapter on Negligence Law in the menu bar, above.



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