[LMB] Criminals OT:

Damien Sullivan phoenix at mindstalk.net
Sat Aug 10 08:50:00 BST 2019

On Sat, Aug 10, 2019 at 02:23:00AM +0100, Marc Wilson wrote:

> >>  > There are burglars who specialise in targeting criminals.
> >>
> >> Since this is a literary list he might mention Robin Hood
> >> and Simon Templar, and, up to a point, Raffles and Modesty
> >> Blaise. Any other suggestions?

Not a burglar, but Vlad Taltos had a phase where he would show money
around and look vulnerable, then defeat (if not kill) and loot the
people who tried to take it from him.

> As a matter of law, surely *any* vigilante is a criminal, in that they
> have no lawful basis for taking action, unless they limit themselves to
> citizen's arrest.

Most superheroes witness a crime (with a victim) in progress and
intervene to render aid and arrest the perps.  Vs. real world vigilante
groups which tend to kill or punitively beat people they consider
guilty, in environments with weak law enforcement.  Superhero focus is
intervention and arrest, not punishment.

Hmm, it's surprisingly hard to find people talking about this aspect of
superhero legality.

cites California: you can citizen arrest for a public offense in your
presence, or a felony not in your presence.

Also, "a private person is justified in using non-deadly force upon
another if they reasonably believe that: (1) such other person is
committing a felony, or a misdemeanor amounting to a breach of the
peace; and (2) the force used is necessary to prevent further commission
of the offense and to apprehend the offender. The force must be
reasonable under the circumstances to restrain the individual arrested."

So actually it seems fairly legal.  You're out on patrol, you witness a
robbery or assault, you swoop in to stop it and arrest the assailant.
Even detective work to track down an escapee and arrest them later is
nominally illegal, though hacking and breaking and entering may not be!

Of course, having made an arrest, you should probably deliver them to
the police, not tape a note to their clothes and swing off.  In
Superman's case he can actually easily deliver them, not call the police
and wait.

More problematic is that a masked individual refusing to give their real
name may not be able to give a statement; in the US the Sixth Amendment
gives a right to confront your accuser.  I suppose Spider-Man sometimes
leaves film negatives of the crime.

NY even gives a right to use deadly force to arrest someone fleeing
after committing not just murder but robbery or rape.

Of course, if you mess up and arrest the wrong person, then *you've*
committed false arrest.  The police have legal protection via
"reasonable suspicion", private citizens don't.

Another approach would be to witness crimes, taking photos and such, or
following them home, and defending yourself if assaulted by the criminal.

-xx- Damien X-)

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