California Penal Code 830.1 PC specifies that peace officers include DOJ special agents and investigators as well as any officers with the sheriff’s department. As peace officers, they can arrest suspects if there is probable cause that the suspects committed a public offense.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
PC 830.1. (a) A sheriff, undersheriff, or deputy sheriff, employed in that capacity, of a county, a chief of police of a city or chief, director, or chief executive officer of a consolidated municipal public safety agency that performs police functions, a police officer, employed in that capacity and appointed by the chief of police or chief, director, or chief executive of a public safety agency, of a city, a chief of police, or police officer of a district, including police officers of the San Diego Unified Port District Harbor Police, authorized by statute to maintain a police department, a marshal or deputy marshal of a superior court or county, a port warden or port police officer of the Harbor Department of the City of Los Angeles, or an inspector or investigator employed in that capacity in the office of a district attorney, is a peace officer. The authority of these peace officers extends to any place in the state, as follows:
(1) As to a public offense committed or for which there is probable cause to believe has been committed within the political subdivision that employs the peace officer or in which the peace officer serves.
(2) If the peace officer has the prior consent of the chief of police or chief, director, or chief executive officer of a consolidated municipal public safety agency, or person authorized by that chief, director, or officer to give consent, if the place is within a city, or of the sheriff, or person authorized by the sheriff to give consent, if the place is within a county.
(3) As to a public offense committed or for which there is probable cause to believe has been committed in the peace officer’s presence, and with respect to which there is immediate danger to person or property, or of the escape of the perpetrator of the offense.
(b) The Attorney General and special agents and investigators of the Department of Justice are peace officers, and those assistant chiefs, deputy chiefs, chiefs, deputy directors, and division directors designated as peace officers by the Attorney General are peace officers. The authority of these peace officers extends to any place in the state where a public offense has been committed or where there is probable cause to believe one has been committed.
(c) A deputy sheriff of the County of Los Angeles, and a deputy sheriff of the Counties of Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Mono, Plumas, Riverside, San Benito, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Yuba who is employed to perform duties exclusively or initially relating to custodial assignments with responsibilities for maintaining the operations of county custodial facilities, including the custody, care, supervision, security, movement, and transportation of inmates, is a peace officer whose authority extends to any place in the state only while engaged in the performance of the duties of the officer’s respective employment and for the purpose of carrying out the primary function of employment relating to the officer’s custodial assignments, or when performing other law enforcement duties directed by the officer’s employing agency during a local state of emergency.
California Penal Code 830.1 PC defines “peace officers” to include the following people:
- municipal or county-wide police officers, (deputy) sheriffs, undersheriffs, port wardens, and marshals; and
- Department of Justice special agents, investigators, (deputy) chiefs, and (deputy) directors.
As peace officers, these people are legally authorized to arrest people if there is probable cause that they committed a crime.1
Example: Max was recently deputized as a deputy sheriff with San Mateo County. While on patrol, he witnesses a man shoplifting from a bodega. As a peace officer, Max can arrest the shoplifter since he has probable cause that the suspect committed a crime.
Note that non-peace officers can make arrests as well (“citizen’s arrests“), but there are more restrictions. Ordinary citizens may arrest a person only when:
- the suspect commits a misdemeanor in the citizen’s presence, or
- the suspect commits a felony, and the citizen has probable cause to believe the suspect committed it.2
- California Penal Code 830.1 PC – Persons who are peace officers; Extent of authority. See, for example, Joseph v. City of Atwater (Cal. App. 5th Dist. 2022), 290 Cal. Rptr. 3d 141; Gore v. Reisig (Cal. App. 3d Dist. 2013), 213 Cal. App. 4th 1487.
- PC 837.