Crimes We Stop
We all want to make a difference in our neighborhoods, and the Guardian Angels get VERY involved and proactively patrol the streets and neighborhoods, deterring crime, and even stopping crimes in progress. But, what are the crimes we encounter? Specifically, if we stop somebody (and especially if we arrest them!) we MUST have a VERY clear understanding of what we’re allowed to do. Otherwise, we’re possibly committing a crime ourselves - the exact opposite of our goal! Let’s get some clear definitions in our heads.
All we need to see to declare “Assault” is: Intent, Means, and Opportunity to commit a violent injury upon another person. Excellent clarification can be found here: http://www.shouselaw.com/assault.html
I really like this distinction:
“An assault is often called an attempted battery,’ while battery is often called a ‘completed assault’,” which can be found at http://www.shouselaw.com/battery.html.
Disturbing the Peace (Disorderly Conduct) PC415
415. Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment and fine: (1) Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person in a public place to fight. (2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise. (3) Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.
Note: Be sure to scroll down to the section on “Penal Code 415(3) fighting words” for important details on this one!
Also take a moment to better understand the subtleties of “Criminal Threats” here: http://www.shouselaw.com/criminal_threats.html
Was the person just defending themselves? Maybe. Here are some guidelines: http://www.shouselaw.com/self-defense.html
Another important consideration is that there IS some legal leeway for Imperfect Self Defense. That is, an appropriate response to a situation doesn’t mean that the evaluation of the situation is accurate.
Public Intoxication PC647
Boy, a night in Hollywood could have us VERY busy if we were supposed to arrest each and every person intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol in public. Luckily, that’s NOT how this works!
Take a look at: http://www.shouselaw.com/drunk-in-public.html which includes this important clarification:
Many people get buzzed or even drunk at California restaurants, nightclubs, concerts, or other public venues. Only in the more extreme cases would this public intoxication trigger a Penal Code 647(f) prosecution.
This is because merely being “drunk” in public isn’t a crime. It only becomes criminal when you get inebriated to the point that
- you are a safety risk to yourself or others, and/or
- you are interfering with other people’s right of movement.
This one is the security guard’s best friend. Bouncers ejecting a patron from their club can always fall back on this one, too. There’s no need to wait for a bigger problem to develop if you want them out.
555. It is unlawful to enter or remain upon any posted property without the written permission of the owner, tenant, or occupant in legal possession or control thereof. Every person who enters or remains upon posted property without such written permission is guilty of a separate offense for each day during any portion of which he enters or remains upon such posted property. 555.1. It is unlawful, without authority, to tear down, deface or destroy any sign posted pursuant to this article. 555.2. It is unlawful to loiter in the immediate vicinity of any posted property. This section does not prohibit picketing in such immediate vicinity or any lawful activity by which the public is informed of the existence of an alleged labor dispute. 555.3. Violation of any of the provisions of this article is a misdemeanor.
Want to do a bit more research on your own? Awesome! In California, start here: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html
For information on making arrests, please also read the post about Legal Info on Making a Private Person’s Arrest.
What else have you discovered on your patrols? Any questions about these laws or others? Please post ‘em in the comments so we can discuss them openly to benefit everyone else!