|This page was last substantively updated or reviewed January 2015. (Rev. # 85799)
- Arrest without warrant by any person
494 (1) Any one may arrest without warrant
- (a) a person whom he finds committing an indictable offence; or
- (b) a person who, on reasonable grounds, he believes
- (i) has committed a criminal offence, and
- (ii) is escaping from and freshly pursued by persons who have lawful authority to arrest that person.
- Arrest by owner, etc., of property
(2) The owner or a person in lawful possession of property, or a person authorized by the owner or by a person in lawful possession of property, may arrest a person without a warrant if they find them committing a criminal offence on or in relation to that property and
- (a) they make the arrest at that time; or
- (b) they make the arrest within a reasonable time after the offence is committed and they believe on reasonable grounds that it is not feasible in the circumstances for a peace officer to make the arrest.
- Delivery to peace officer
(3) Any one other than a peace officer who arrests a person without warrant shall forthwith deliver the person to a peace officer.
- For greater certainty
(4) For greater certainty, a person who is authorized to make an arrest under this section is a person who is authorized by law to do so for the purposes of section 25 [protection of persons acting under authority].
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 494;
2012, c. 9, s. 3.
"Finds committing" requires that the arresting person discover the suspect "in the very act of committing an offence."
- "indictable offences"
Any reference to "indictable offences" in s. 494 include hybrid offences.
The meaning of "forthwith" in the Criminal Code means "as soon as is reasonably practiable under all the circumstances."
An arrest by a private citizen will still enable the accused's Charter rights as the person is exercising a government function.
Contra: Where the actions of a private citizens are not at the direction of the state, the Charter does not apply to the conduct of persons operating under s. 494.
R v Abel & Corbett, 2008 BCCA 54 (CanLII), 229 CCC (3d) 465, per Frankel JA, at para 31
R v Huff, 1979 ABCA 234 (CanLII), 50 CCC (2d) 324, per Laycraft JA
R v Cunningham (1979), 49 CCC (2d) 390(*no CanLII links)
see Forthwith Under Section 254
R v Lerke, 1986 ABCA 15 (CanLII), CR (3d) 324, 24 CCC (3d) 129, per Laycraft CJ
R v McCowan, 2011 ABPC 79 (CanLII), 509 AR 202, per Fradsham J
R v Skeir, 2005 NSCA 86 (CanLII), 196 CCC (3d) 353, per Fichaud JA
R v Buhay, 2003 SCC 30 (CanLII),  1 SCR 631, per Arbour J