Most citizens generally want to exercise behavior to benefit their surrounding community, whether or not they are a sworn officer of the law. However, in doing so, it is best to know your state laws and stay within your rights as a Virginia resident. The State of Virginia, like almost every state in the union, makes specific provisions in regards to what is known as a “citizen’s arrest.” If you do not strictly adhere to the laws surrounding what you can and can’t do as an unsworn protector of the community, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law, despite good natured intentions.Virginia state law stipulates that citizen’s arrests are permitted if and only if the crime committed is a felony level offense. Lesser crimes, such as misdemeanors, should be left up to actual law enforcement officers, as any citizen acting as an arresting entity will not enjoy legal protection and may be prosecuted for his or her actions. Furthermore, the arresting citizen must be present at the time the felony crime was committed, as to be absolutely certain the accused is in fact the culprit guilty of the offense. If a person is detained under unfounded or misguided suspicion by someone who is not a sworn law enforcement officer, the arresting citizen will in turn be in violation of the law and subject to punishment and/or penalty.All citizens should be advised that police officers are highly trained professionals who take calculated risks when performing their job duties. As an untrained citizen, you are putting yourself directly in harm’s way when attempting to make an arrest; therefore, it is recommended to contact your local police department if you see a crime in action as opposed to inserting yourself into a potentially hostile situation. Remember, it is a police officer’s role to protect and serve the citizens of his or her jurisdiction. You, the citizen, enjoy this protection. While crime tips and information are always appreciated, the actual act of arresting a suspect is usually best left up to the pros.