Citizen’s Arrests (Qld)

When people think about getting arrested, they generally think of arrests carried out by police. In some limited circumstances though, members of the public also have the power to carry out arrests. This is known as a citizen’s arrest. In Queensland, the circumstances where this can occur are set out in Chapter 58 of the Criminal Code 1899. This page deals with citizen’s arrests in Queensland.

When can a person carry out a citizen’s arrest?

A person may carry out a citizen’s arrest in the following situations:

How is a citizen’s arrest carried out?

A person who seeks to arrest another person under Chapter 58 of the Criminal Code 1899 must ensure they do not exceed their lawful powers in doing so.

Under section 552 of the Criminal Code 1899, a person who carries out a citizen’s arrest must take the person arrested before a justice to be dealt with or deliver them into the custody of a police officer immediately. They may use reasonable force in order to carry out the arrest. They should be willing to speak to police about the reasons for the arrest.

Unlawful citizen’s arrests

Carrying out a citizen’s arrest is risky. Citizen’s arrests usually occur on the spur of the moment and the person carrying them out generally does not have prior experience of handling such situations. There are a number of serious consequences that can follow if the arrest is not carried out correctly.  

If you arrest a person under circumstances where you do not have the power to arrest them, this is false imprisonment. False imprisonment is the unlawful restraint of a person by another person within a confined area. The person arrested may sue you for the tort of false imprisonment. You could also be charged with the criminal offence of deprivation of liberty, which is defined as unlawfully confining or detaining a person in a place against their will.

If you carry out a citizen’s arrest and use more force than is reasonably necessary, subject the person to unnecessary humiliation or degradation, or fail to deliver the person into police custody without delay, this could also lead to the person taking civil action against you.  

Other risks of citizen’s arrests

Carrying out a citizen’s arrest may also place you at risk of becoming injured if the person being arrested lashes out at you or resists arrest. You may also risk injuring the person you are arresting.

If you require legal advice or representation in any matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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