7- Jackson V. Superior Court of Merced County (1950) 98 Cal.App.2d 183

This case addresses the issue as to when an arrest may be made. In this case, a deputy sheriff observed a boy shoot a BB gun at a light bulb affixed to a public building. The deputy stopped the boy and told him he should not be playing around the building or shooting the BB gun. This occurred at approximately 1:30 p.m.

The next day, at approximately 5:00 p.m., the deputy went to the boy’s home and attempted to arrest him for the incident which had occurred the day before. The boy’s parents prohibited the arrest without a warrant. The deputy proceeded to obtain a warrant and arrested the boy as well as his parents for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The Court explained that both peace officers and private persons may make arrests without warrants for public offenses committed or attempted in the presence of the person making the arrest. However,

“The arrest must be at the time the offense or any part of the offense is being committed or within a reasonable time thereafter or upon fresh and immediate pursuit of the offender.” “It seems to be generally held that an arrest for a misdemeanor without a warrant cannot be justified if made after the occasions has passed, though committed in the presence of the arresting officer.”

There is no concrete rule which sets forth the exact amount of time which may elapse between the time of the offense and the arrest. The amount of time which may elapse depends upon the circumstances of the case. Generally speaking, the arrest must be made promptly and as soon as possible under the circumstances.

Furthermore, the person making the arrest must continue with the progress of making the arrest after the actions which give rise to the arrest have been observed. In other words, there must be a continued pursuit in effecting the arrest. However, if, as in the Jackson case, the officer observes the conduct giving rise to the offense and then proceeds with other business, the officer is obviously not pursuing the arrest and is not making the arrest at the first opportunity. As such, the Court in Jackson determined that the subject arrest was not valid.

The Court held, “In order to justify a delay, there should be a continued attempt on the part of the officer of person apprehending the offender to make the arrest; he cannot delay for any purpose which is foreign to the accomplishment of the arrest.” (Id. at p. 187, citing 4 American Jurisprudence § 67, p. 46.)

LESSON: It is always best to effectuate an arrest at the time it is committed. If circumstances warrant, however it may be safer to wait for assistance, either from a fellow security officer or law enforcement. The key here is whether or not you went back to other business before making the arrest, or were you in good faith waiting for the proper events to occur in order to safely make the arrest.