So you want to start an armed neighborhood watch? Here are some thoughts and legal points to keep in mind.
First, be very careful putting yourself in a position where you may be exposed to violence. Armed neighbors standing around the entrance to their neighborhood as a deterrent as one thing, but engaging rioters/looters is another. It’s best to let the police do the dangerous work.
Remember that engaging rioters/looters is a risky business. We’ve already seen people savagely beaten and killed for trying to intervene. If things look froggy and you have to get involved, a helmet and googles are a good ideal. Keep behind solid cover. If you are at home, try not to go outside or leave your yard. Never breach your perimeter if you don’t have too.
Contact your local police/sheriff’s station to let them know what’s going on.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t shoot people for theft or vandalism.
This does not constitute, nor should be implied as, legal advice.
Private Person's Arrest
You may make a private person's arrest, at any time of the day or night without a warrant, when:
You may ask others for assistance to help you make the arrest and you may re-capture the arrestee if they escape.
NRS 171.104 Arrest defined; by whom made. An arrest is the taking of a person into custody, in a case and in the manner authorized by law. An arrest may be made by a peace officer or by a private person.
NRS 171.126 Arrest by private person. A private person may arrest another:
1. For a public offense committed or attempted in the person’s presence.
2. When the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in the person’s presence.
3. When a felony has been in fact committed, and the private person has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.
NRS 171.132 Person making arrest may summon assistance. Any person making an arrest may orally summon as many persons as the person making the arrest deems necessary to aid him or her therein.
NRS 171.134 Escape or rescue of arrested person: Pursuit and retaking at any time and place in State. If a person arrested escapes or is rescued, the person from whose custody he or she escaped or was rescued may immediately pursue and retake the person at any time and in any place within the State.
You are required to assist police in making an arrest and to join the “posse comitatus.” Officers are required to take your arrestee in to custody.
NRS 199.260 Neglect or refusal to receive person into custody. Every officer who, in violation of any legal duty, shall willfully neglect or refuse to receive a person into his or her official custody or into a prison under his or her charge shall, in a case where no other punishment is specially provided by law, be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
NRS 199.270 Refusal to make arrest or to aid officer. Every person who, after having been lawfully commanded by any magistrate to arrest another person, shall willfully neglect or refuse so to do, and every person who, after having been lawfully commanded to aid an officer in arresting any person, or in retaking any person who has escaped from lawful custody, or in executing any lawful process, shall willfully neglect or refuse to aid such officer shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
You cannot arrest someone unless truly justified. You must reasonably believe them to be guilty of a crime (no hunches), etc. You can be arrested and sued if you illegally arrest or detain someone. Don’t claim to be police. Don’t beat them after you arrest them. Do not draw a firearm on them unless you reasonably believe you are in danger of death or serious injury. Don’t brandish or aim your firearm at anyone unless it is in self-defense (and never in mere anger).
NRS 200.460 False imprisonment
1. False imprisonment is an unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another, and consists in confinement or detention without sufficient legal authority.
2. A person convicted of false imprisonment shall pay all damages sustained by the person so imprisoned, and, except as otherwise provided in this section, is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
3. Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to subsection 4, if the false imprisonment is committed:
(a) By a prisoner in a penal institution without a deadly weapon; or
(b) By any other person with the use of a deadly weapon,
Ê the person convicted of such a false imprisonment is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years.
4. Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to subsection 5, if the false imprisonment is committed by using the person so imprisoned as a shield or to avoid arrest, the person convicted of such a false imprisonment is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 15 years.
5. If the false imprisonment is committed by a prisoner who is in lawful custody or confinement with the use of a deadly weapon, the person convicted of such a false imprisonment is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 20 years.
NRS 199.310 Malicious prosecution. A person who maliciously and without probable cause therefor, causes or attempts to cause another person to be arrested or proceeded against for any crime of which that person is innocent:
1. If the crime is a felony, is guilty of a category D felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.130; and
2. If the crime is a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
NRS 199.430 Impersonation of officer. Every person who shall falsely personate a public officer, civil or military, or a police officer, or a private individual having special authority by law to perform an act affecting the rights or interests of another, or who, without authority shall assume any uniform or badge by which such an officer or person is lawfully distinguished, and in such assumed character shall do any act purporting to be official, whereby another is injured or defrauded, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
NRS 200.471 Assault/assault with a deadly weapon
1. As used in this section:
(a) “Assault” means:
(1) Unlawfully attempting to use physical force against another person; or
(2) Intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm
2. A person convicted of an assault shall be punished:
(a) If paragraph (c) or (d) does not apply to the circumstances of the crime and the assault is not made with the use of a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon, for a misdemeanor.
(b) If the assault is made with the use of a deadly weapon or the present ability to use a deadly weapon, for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.
NRS 202.290 Aiming firearm at human being; discharging weapon where person might be endangered; penalty. Unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 202.287, a person who willfully:
1. Aims any gun, pistol, revolver or other firearm, whether loaded or not, at or toward any human being; or
2. Discharges any firearm, air gun or other weapon, or throws any deadly missile in a public place or in any place where any person might be endangered thereby, although an injury does not result,
Ê is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
NRS 202.320 Drawing deadly weapon in threatening manner.
1. Unless a greater penalty is provided in NRS 202.287, a person having, carrying or procuring from another person any dirk, dirk-knife, sword, sword cane, pistol, gun or other deadly weapon, who, in the presence of two or more persons, draws or exhibits any of such deadly weapons in a rude, angry or threatening manner not in necessary self-defense, or who in any manner unlawfully uses that weapon in any fight or quarrel, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
2. A sheriff, deputy sheriff, marshal, constable or other peace officer shall not be held to answer, under the provisions of subsection 1, for drawing or exhibiting any of the weapons mentioned therein while in the lawful discharge of his or her duties.
Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West