PETALING JAYA: If you’re making a citizen’s arrest, make sure you don’t use excessive force or delay contacting the police after you’ve apprehended the suspect. Otherwise, you may end up getting arrested yourself.
According to human rights and criminal lawyer Dinesh Muthal, it is lawful for a member of the public to arrest a person he believes has committed a “seizable offence” as long as he does not apply unnecessary force and calls the police immediately afterwards.
“You may have to use a certain amount of force,” Dinesh told FMT. “Otherwise the person is going to run away. But beyond that, you’re committing an offence yourself.”
He said he had observed that in most cases of citizen’s arrest, the suspected offenders were badly beaten up.
“You see thieves who are caught getting beaten to a pulp by members of the public. There is no excuse for that. These are some of the cases I’ve had to deal with.”
He said police must be contacted immediately or as soon as possible.
“If you keep the person detained for an unnecessary amount of time, then it’s tantamount to kidnapping.”
The Criminal Procedure Code defines a “seizable offence” as an offence in which a police officer may ordinarily arrest a person without a warrant. Dinesh said such offences included theft, robbery, murder and rape.
Bernama had earlier reported that a Chinese national who had allegedly hypnotised a local woman and stolen her jewellery was caught and tied to a tree after her victim spotted her at a market in Puchong.
The 56-year-old suspect, a woman, was apprehended when the alleged victim sought help from the public upon seeing her at the market on Jalan Wawasan 2.
The local woman claimed she had lost jewellery and valuables worth RM10,000 to the Chinese woman and two accomplices in August and had lodged a police report.
Police have remanded the alleged confidence trickster for four days.