Citizen’s Arrest and HOA Rules?

Crazy celebrity antics crack me up, but there’s nothing funny about the possible consequences of carrying out a “citizen’s arrest.”

In this story (link), Farmer Ted from Sixteen Candles was being a real nuisance, pounding on doors, tearing up plants and annoying his condominium unit neighbors to the point that one of them put him under “citizen’s arrest” and the police were called.

Utah authorizes a private person to arrest someone for public offenses committed in his or her presence:

Utah Code § 77-7-3.   By private persons.
A private person may arrest another:
(1) For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence; or
(2) When a felony has been committed and he has reasonable cause to believe the person arrested has committed it.

While Utah law specifically allows for citizen’s arrest, I don’t think many law enforcement officers, and certainly no attorneys, would recommend it.  There is a huge potential for such a situation to go all too wrong.  Besides the obvious risks to personal safety, a person exercising citizen’s arrest would open themselves up to claims of false imprisonment, assault, battery, slander, and on and on.

I hardly need to say it, but if a resident is violating the nuisance prohibitions of the CC&Rs in a manner that is also against the law, I do not recommend that HOA boards and property managers add citizen’s arrest to their list of enforcement options.

Curtis G. Kimble

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