Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: On citizen’s arrests; or yet another law change I missed when Parliament created the Criminal Procedure Act

14 Responses

  • Thomas Lumley,

    A related question I've been wondering about: is a "citizen's arrest" of a tourist driver a three-strikes offence?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2013 • 43 posts Report Reply

  • EliotBlennerhassett,

    Paragraph 3 seems to be truncated?

    Christhcurch • Since Jan 2010 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to EliotBlennerhassett,

    Paragraph 3 seems to be truncated?

    Do you mean paragraph 4, if so, I fixed it before you read it, but presumably not before you opened the tab :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3193 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    is a "citizen's arrest" of a tourist driver a three-strikes offence?

    If you're unlucky it could presumably be all of them. To wit, assault, kidnapping, threats, probably a bit of wilful damage and something under the causing injury sections. IANAL, of course.

    There's a whole lot of law that I get exposed to as a cyclist that has caused me to read actual books and stuff.

    Because one thing I've learned is that almost no police you see in public are lawyers or have any great knowledge of the law. Like most people, they know the stuff they need to do the common parts of their job and sod all else. So a cop driving round will be good at speed limits and utterly useless on, say, the legal limitations that apply to bicycle trailers (they must be no more than 12.5m long, 2.55m wide and 4.3m high, weighing not more than 3.5 tonnes unless the rider has a heavy vehicle license (because the law really is bonkers on the subtle differences between motorised and non-motorised vehicles)). This is all, naturally, subject to correction by anyone who actually knows the law.

    Actually, one day it would be handy to have one of the beagles do a post about load carrying bicycles and bicycle trailers, because there are things I've never really been able to work out. Like, how many people are you allowed to have riding a single bicycle? Does an articulated bicycle count as one bicycle, a bicycle with a trailer, or "please don't let this go to court, now move along"?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1046 posts Report Reply

  • izogi,

    So a news story about a citizen's arrest for dangerous driving (an offence with a maximum penalty of three month's imprisonment) is really a story about the possible kidnapping of a tourist.

    In this specific case it doesn't sound as if they actively tried to arrest the driver (though I'm unsure about the legal definition) as opposed to parking their cars in a way that prevented her from driving her vehicle away, then arguing with her while someone fetched a Police Constable.

    Could that ever amount to kidnapping under the Crimes Act or would it be more like a traffic offence?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1109 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to izogi,

    Could that ever amount to kidnapping under the Crimes Act or would it be more like a traffic offence?

    I obviously have no idea what happened, but the basic requirements for kidnapping are detaining someone with the intent of them being confined.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3193 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    Okay, so no citizen's arrest/car key confiscations however great the provocation...oops...still no defense...

    Is there perhaps some Law that states failure to prevent a crime from happening is in itself a crime????

    "Oh, yes Officer, I nearly ran up the arse of that car that's now part of that tangle of broken bodies and scrap metal. Twice actually. When the driver simply stopped in the middle of the road. Both times on blind corners. And since I had to stop, and it takes me a bit more time to get the old Bus's diesel engine back up to 90 ks, the same car driven by the same fuckwit didn't even slow down when he caught up with me further along the Lake. No, he just pulled into the opposing lane...forcing the vehicle legally occupying it to take evasive action. Yes, Officer I did have an opportunity to speak with the driver of that car when we again met up in Otematata, but by this time I was beyond furious. Having had three near death experiences within 1/2 an hour. I may have taken extreme measures such as taking the keys out of the car....which would have been a crime..."

    (This is nearly a true story. We travel heaps, and on the whole we find that Kiwi drivers by far display worse driving habits than (obvious) tourists. This 'rule',however, does not hold true in the Waitaki/McKenzie Basin/Twizel/Tekapo/Aoraki Mt Cook region where it is the complete reverse. We have seen some seriously homicidal/suicidal driving from tourists. There ought to be immunity from kidnapping charges under such circumstances, just in that part of the country.)

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1307 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Is there perhaps some Law that states failure to prevent a crime from happening is in itself a crime????

    Only very specific ones: failure to alert the authorities to treason; failure to protect a child or vulnerable adult (eg knowing of child abuse as a parent and doing nothing, or knowing of serious elder abuse in a rest home as a person working in that home and doing nothing.

    There is no general legal obligation to report crimes, or to cooperate with police, etc.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3193 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Sparks,

    As we’ve driven around the Nelson/Golden Bay area in the last week I’ve been joking about making my first citizen’s arrest if we encountered a bad driver. I won’t be joking about that anymore let alone doing it. Seems the best approach would be to pull over and call the police with a description of the car, registration no. and the location/direction of travel. If there are two of you in the car I guess you could follow the car until it pulls over somewhere, then engage the offending driver in some sort of conversation while the other person calls the police.

    Cox’s Creek • Since Apr 2011 • 60 posts Report Reply

  • mpledger, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    Suppose you are driving a car with a child on board and a driver nearly wipes you out and that driver gives you the finger i.e. there was some degree of carelessness or perhaps it was even intentional. Can you make a citizens arrest then?

    Since Oct 2012 • 85 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Surely careless or reckless use of a deadly weapon that is likely to end in tragedy if not death, doesn't have to come under the Land Transport Act just because the weapon in question is shaped like a car?

    I would hope a citizens arrest could be (legally) made on grounds that you believe death/carnage was highly likely from any cause?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 869 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    I nearly ran up the arse of that car that's now part of that tangle of broken bodies and scrap metal. Twice actually. When the driver simply stopped in the middle of the road. Both times on blind corners.

    Illustrating another common (and dangerous misconception) that many NZers have:

    FYI, the road code sez:

    You can drive at any speed under or equal to the limit, provided:
    - you can stop suddenly behind a vehicle that you’re following – if a vehicle ahead of you stops suddenly and you run into the back of it, you will be legally responsible
    - you can stop in the length of clear lane you can see in front of you on a road with a centre line or lanes.

    If you're coming up to a blind corner, you have to slow down such that if there did happen to be a car parked in the middle of the road admiring the view, or whose engine suddenly seized, or who braked to a stop coz the proverbial child/dog/deer ran out in front of them. That's the rules, and it's pretty much the same everywhere in the world.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5545 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Well, whew!

    Just as well I do travel at such a speed and following distance that I have hitherto been able to stop when some fwit decides the best place to stop is right in the middle of the road.

    And yes, thank god, I do take blind corners at stop dead speed...else on one more than one occasion there would have been at least 5 tonnes of Bus firmly inserted in rear of a rental car.

    Now, how to manage the road rage of the fuckwit behind me who is clearly prescient and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that my precautionary approach to cornering is a complete and utter overreaction to the remote possibility that there could be said obstacle just around the bend.

    So, of course, this fwit passes me...because, like, I was driving too slowly... and any head-on fwit has with oncoming vehicle is my fault for forcing him to pass...

    And so it goes...

    And...to top it off...I further provoke other motorists by having named my Bus "Patience". Acts like a red rag....

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1307 posts Report Reply

  • Allan MacLachlan,

    Now, how to manage the road rage of the fuckwit behind me who is clearly prescient and knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that my precautionary approach to cornering is a complete and utter overreaction to the remote possibility that there could be said obstacle just around the bend.

    Just pull over at the soonest opportunity and let them continue in their rage ahead of you.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 16 posts Report Reply

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