Michigan Rules for Arrest, Advice to Gun Owners

Michigan Rules for Arrest, Advice to Gun Owners
by Daniel Bambery, Author of “A Common Sense Guide to Michigan Gun Laws”

Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners
Michigan Coalition For Responsible Gun Owners

Michigan – -(AmmoLand.com)- An arrest is the stopping or restraint of a person that requires them to remain within certain specified limits. Any time someone stops me from going where I have a right to go, I have been “arrested”. When the security guard stops me from leaving the store and asks to look into my shopping cart; when the TSA employee demands to see my boarding pass; when a child stands in the door and wants me to stay home and play; when the police officer pulls me over I have been arrested.

The question is whether the arrest is proper and how much force is allowed in making a proper arrest.

The rule of reasonableness applies throughout the rules governing arrest. To avoid consequences in all situations, the actions of the person making the arrest must be reasonable.

A private person can use more force than a police officer to arrest a fleeing felon without criminal consequences; but in more limited circumstances. Michigan courts have ruled that the use of deadly force by a private person to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon is justifiable where the following three circumstances are present: (1) the evidence must show that a felony actually occurred, (2) the fleeing suspect against whom force was used must be the person who committed the felony, and (3) the use of deadly force must been necessary to ensure the apprehension of the felon. (That is, if the arrestee resists the arrest or would escape without the use of deadly force.)

This third circumstance is another way of saying the use of deadly force must be reasonable. If the fleeing felon has stopped and is awaiting the arrival of the police, the use of deadly force is not reasonable. Likewise the use of deadly force before calling out to the felon to stop is probably unreasonable.

On the other hand a police officer is bound by the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable arrests. The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that it is per se unreasonable for a police officer to use deadly force to stop a nonviolent fleeing felon who poses no danger to the officer or others. Thus, there is a fourth circumstance that applies to the police but the police can arrest with probable cause. So the rule for police use of deadly force is: 1) the officer must have probable cause to believe that a felony actually occurred, (2) the officer must have probable cause to believe the fleeing suspect against whom force was used is the person who committed the felony, (3) the use of deadly force must been necessary to ensure the apprehension of the felon, and (4) the fleeing felon must pose a danger to others if not stopped. (The danger can be shown by the nature of the crime the person is fleeing from. An armed robber is always dangerous. A burglar may be dangerous.)

A private person may make an arrest without civil consequences for the arrest if the person arrested has actually committed a felony. Probable cause or a reasonable belief is not good enough. The arrestee must actually be a felon. Liability can still attach if the arrest was done in an unreasonable manner.

Police may arrest without a warrant with probable cause to believe a felony has been committed and probable cause to believe the person arrested committed it, or if a misdemeanor has been committed in the officer’s presence. An officer can always arrest if a warrant exists for the arrest.

Michigan has changed many traffic violations from misdemeanors to civil infractions. There is now a specific statute allowing officers to detain motorists upon reasonable belief that the motorist committed a civil infraction.

An improper or false arrest is rarely a criminal act. If the person making the false arrest forces the person arrested to go to another location it may become the crime of kidnapping. If the arresting person unreasonably uses deadly force and the arrestee dies it can be murder. But absent such aggravating circumstances the remedy for a false arrest is a civil suit for damages. Damages can include such things as mental anguish for public embarrassment, lost wages, costs of therapy needed to get over the embarrassment etc.

A merchant or librarian, or their employee, may arrest a person if the merchant has reasonable cause to believe that the person has stolen something from the store or library. Reasonable cause is often a tricky concept. Often the merchant will ask the person if they have something that belongs to the merchant or to voluntarily accompany them to the back of the store. The best procedure of course is for the merchant to actually see the person put the steaks inside their pants before leaving without paying.

A licensed, uniformed security guard has all the arrest powers of a police officer while on his employer’s premises.

If wrong, a merchant or librarian is not liable for mental anguish or punitive damages if the arrest was made with probable cause and in a reasonable manner. He is still liable for actual damages.

A theater owner can arrest, and hold for the police, a person the theatre owner has reasonable cause to believe was recording the movie.

It is good to reiterate that an arrest must always be reasonable and done in a reasonable manner. If a person avoids any criminal consequences from using force in making an arrest, they can still be liable for civil damages if they made an unreasonable arrest or made a reasonable arrest in an unreasonable manner.

DISCLAIMER: I have attempted to distill two semesters of law school into 1,000 words. Obviously this essay is generalized and incomplete. The reader should consult their own attorney for any specific questions.

The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Formed from just eight people in 1996, we now have thousands of members and numerous affiliated clubs across the state. We’re growing larger and more effective every day.

Our mission statement is: “Promoting safe use and ownership of firearms through education, litigation, and legislation” Visit: www.mcrgo.org

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Someone who actually finished Law school

Go back to law school, as obviously 2 semesters was not enough. Most of what you have stated is false and will only lead your readers to face criminal charges themselves!! For starters, the legal definition of being arrested not only includes being stopped and temporally detained, but also you must no longer have the freedom to leave and it must be accompanied by the reading of your Miranda rights to make the arrest constitutional. When you are pulled over by the police, you are stopped (detained) and at this point your rights are protected by search and seizure laws… Read more »


Someone haf tried to scam me for some money a week ago His story was that he lived far away and have no money for gas. He ask me for money but i decline. The reason why was because he used the same line two weeks ago with one of my friend. My question is, can a citizen detain someone for scamming others? If can, how should a citizen detain them?


As a citizen, average Joe, what are my limitations for a Citizens Arrest in Michigan? If I see a man or woman abusing a child, can I detain them and make an arrest? What if I know a child who has allergies, say to nuts, or any food item, and I see the parent blatantly feeding them items they are allergic to, can I make a citizens arrest?

What if the above holds true, it was reported to DHS and CPS and I feel the child is in danger, can I make an arrest for attempted murder or child abuse?


https://www.michigan.gov/mcoles/0,1607,7-229-41626… Please use caution when inferring that licensed security guards have peace officer arrest authority. That is ONLY the case in very few proprietary security POLICE organizations- there are currently only 11 in the entire state. Absent the protections and probable cause granted under the retail fraud laws, private security guards (those with a RED PATCH and no word POLICE) will NEVER have peace officer powers. To imply that a citizen needs to yield to a private security officer because they believe they have police authority by virtue of their uniform, being on duty and on their employers property is… Read more »

Gerald M Solai

I thought the article was very good. However the officer may also arrest on probable/reasonable cause in certain misdemeanor situations also:

The peace officer has reasonable cause to believe a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than 92 days or a felony has been committed and reasonable cause to believe the person committed it.


A Uniformed Security Guard in the State of Michigan has NO more Power to Arrest then a normal citizen. However a Security POLICE OFFICER (Per Public Act 330 Art. 29) having completed the State Certified Academy/Training and is sworn in by the state Has Statutory Powers of arrest same as those of Regular Police Officer.


I'm not sure some of the things in this article are even remotely accurate…. Any time someone stops me from going where I have a right to go, I have been “arrested”. — Incorrect. A police officer may direct you to a different location in an emergency situation, and you more assuredly not "arrested" under the definition the Supreme Court uses in the 4th Amendment context. When the security guard stops me from leaving the store and asks to look into my shopping cart; — questionable, but unless they have the actual authority (which I don't believe they do) to… Read more »

NoOne Important

Everything stated is entirely accurate, you can read about it in a few cases, most specifically “people v couch Mich 1990” that he quotes from. An arrest is the cessation of movement, by an intentional act. Standing in someone’s doorway preventing them from leaving is an “arrest” doing so without lawful authority is a “false arrest”. Moving them from one place to another after arrest is “imprisonment” doing so without lawful authority is called “kidnapping”. You are not correct. Every word of this is actual law, and exactly what the jury instructions will be if you claim citizens arrest as… Read more »