Criminally Stupid Comes to the Border

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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16 Responses

  1. Roland Dodds says:

    This is a pretty terrifying development.Report

  2. Philip H says:

    And yet many on the right will tell you this is what HAS TO HAPPEN because Democrats won’t secure the border. Too much political posturing by one party has led to this situation and yet that party will never say it was wrong,, or accept anything that is actually done, because to do so would require the admission that the border issue is an economic issue and a foreign relations issue as much as a security issue.Report

  3. Chip Daniels says:

    Another data point showing that gun owners will be as likely to turn their guns on The People instead of the tyrannical government.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      as a lefty gun owner I’d really caution you on that remark. Yes, some far right gun owners will turn their guns on just about everyone, but lets not go lumping us all in this camp shall we?Report

      • pillsy in reply to Philip H says:

        Yeah most people with guns are not weird and scary about their guns.

        Most people with guns are so normal about them you forget they exist entirely.Report

  4. veronica d says:

    Yet the rightward posters here keep telling me not to worry about the American equivalent of the brownshirts, nor the obvious rise of fascism.Report

  5. George Turner says:

    My housemate was discussing this yesterday, marveling that people don’t realize it’s legal for them to make an arrest. He’s an attorney and takes it as a given.

    This may come as news, but you all have the power to arrest people who have committed a felony, and often for a misdemeanor, and you have had that power since the Middle Ages. As a general rule you can even use limited force. Just don’t be mistaken or you can get sued – possibly jailed, too.

    I had no idea that this was even controversial.

    States somewhat vary, of course, but it’s pretty much a given.

    For your edification,

    Kentucky – just because that’s my home state:

    Kentucky Revised Statutes § 431.005

    (6) A private person may make an arrest when a felony has been committed in fact and he has probable cause to believe that the person being arrested has committed it.


    13-3884. Arrest by private person

    A private person may make an arrest:

    1. When the person to be arrested has in his presence committed a misdemeanor amounting to a breach of the peace, or a felony.

    2. When a felony has been in fact committed and he has reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested has committed it.

    New Mexico:

    31-4-14. Arrest without a warrant. (1937)

    The arrest of a person may be lawfully made also by any peace officer or a private person without a warrant upon reasonable information that the accused stands charged in the courts of a state with a crime punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, but when so arrested the accused must be taken before a judge or magistrate with all practicable speed and complaint must be made against him under oath setting forth the ground for the arrest as in the preceding section [31-4-13 NMSA 1978]; and thereafter his answer shall be heard as if he had been arrested on a warrant.

    A prison term “exceeding one year” refers to felonies, and the New Mexico law is somewhat unusual in not covering acts witnessed by the person, only outstanding warrants. There’s an interesting reason for that. New Mexico doesn’t rely on statutory law for citizen’s arrests, but on the common law that recognizes that a private individual can arrest another private individual who they saw committing a crime. Thus they rely on precedent, and only had to write a statute to cover the private arrest of a person who didn’t obviously commit a felony right then, but who had an outstanding felony warrant in another state. In New Mexico, you can arrest people for those too! But it doesn’t cover arresting someone who is drunk and about to commit a DUI, and they may have to address that because it would be really handy.

    In California they codified citizens arrests in Penal Code 837. Anybody can make an arrest for a misdemeanor they witnessed, such as a bar fight or shoplifting. Some misdemeanor arrests have to be made by a private person because the police are prohibited from making arrests for certain crimes if they didn’t personally witness it, so the police have to rely on the witnessing citizen to make the arrest.

    And of course anybody in California can make felony arrests, and anybody can make an arrest for prostitution. Seems to me like that would’ve resulted in some restaurant scenes. “We split the check or I’m hauling you in, baby.” But I guess not.


    Art. 14.01. OFFENSE WITHIN VIEW. (a) A peace officer or any other person, may, without a warrant, arrest an offender when the offense is committed in his presence or within his view, if the offense is one classed as a felony or as an offense against the public peace.

    The phrase “or any other person”, strangely enough, includes illegal aliens, who can in fact arrest you. It comes from England, where illegal aliens can still arrest Englishmen who are committing felonies, and have been able to do so for many centuries. None of the state laws restrict arrest powers to citizens as opposed to aliens, so far as I know.

    In any event, if you’re making arrests you do need to take care and follow all the proper procedures, and some of those are spelled out quite clearly.

    Here’s A guide (pdf) from the Alameda County California’s DA’s office for those who are curious.Report

    • By the New Mexico statue you just quoted what these people are doing along the New Mexico border is illegal, as they do not have reasonable information that “the accused stands charged in the courts of a state with a crime punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” Also, to reiterate, very stupid and liable to get someone hurt or worse in the near future.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        As I explained, the New Mexico statute was only written to cover things not already covered by case law, specifically the apprehension of wanted felons from other states. Everybody in New Mexico can already make felony arrests when they witness a crime.

        What may trip the guy up, aside from the gun possession charge, is that New Mexico doesn’t recognize the general right to make a citizens arrest for a misdemeanor, which is how crossing the US border is classified under the US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. However, entering the US for a second time is a felony (two years) as is entering after having committed a prior felony (ten years).

        So his case might depend on whether New Mexico has a specific provision or case law that allows illegal immigrants to be arrested by citizens, or if he had probable cause to suspect particular individuals of recrossing, or of being coyotes, or smuggling, etc, in which case he’s making felony arrests, which is fine, legally.

        Here’s an article from the Albuquerque Journal by a district judge on making citizen’s arrests in New Mexico.Report

        • Em Carpenter in reply to George Turner says:

          So it’s Shrodinger’s arrest. Detain first, then find out later whether it is the person’s first or subsequent crossing. I.e, is it a legal citizens arrest or an illegal kidnapping.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Em Carpenter says:

            It’s more like Mandelbrot’s arrest.

            If I witness the militia detaining someone, I can reasonably assume they are kidnappers.
            So I arrest them.

            However, another person witnesses my arrest, and assumes I am assaulting someone, and arrests me.

            Then another citizen happens along and assumes…Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

      So like, if I witness a bank officer fraudulently applying charges to someone’s credit card, can I just arrest him, using whatever violence is necessary, and haul him into jail?

      Asking for a comrade.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Generally there doesn’t seem to be the “haul them off to jail” part. To arrest is to detain, and so you hold them while someone calls the police to come pick them up.

        The California procedures I linked above are quite surprising. If the suspect has escaped, you can have the cops go apprehend him and bring him back to you so you can arrest him. Then, until 2002, the police were criminally obligated to take custody of the suspect from you. They couldn’t just turn you down, they had to seize the person you arrested or you could charge the police with a crime. I guess someone abused that law so they got rid of it. ^_^

        But look on the bright side. If you see some fraternity punks kicking a puppy and you know they’re just going to run, you can arrest them, perhaps at gunpoint or perhaps in an arm bar with their face in some poo, and then have the police haul them away in a squad car.

        Thank you citizen!

        There were some old jury instructions in Pike County that are pretty amusing. They went something like this: “If you find a bad man has killed a bad man, send him to prison so we have two less bad men. But if you find a good man has killed a bad man, do not convict, but vote him money from the public treasury so that he may buy better guns and go kill more bad men.”Report

  6. Jesse says:

    But hey, none of those militia members were on Twitter being mean to conservatives online, so obviously SJW’s are still The Real Problem in politics.Report

  7. pillsy says:

    Similar wackjobs have proven to be extremely bad news in the past.Report

  8. JoeSal says:

    This is one of the reasons I look at the night-watchman state folks and just chuckle.Report