California Penal Code 835 PC permits police to use as much restraint as is reasonable when arresting and detaining a criminal suspect. Police who make false arrests, subject suspects to unlawful detentions, or gratuitously use tasers and stun guns face criminal charges and civil suits for police misconduct.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
835 PC. An arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person, or by submission to the custody of an officer. The person arrested may be subjected to such restraint as is reasonable for his arrest and detention.
PC 835 states that arrests of criminal suspects in California are made by either: 1) an actual restraint of the suspect, or 2) submission to the custody of an officer. When executing an arrest, police may use “such restraint as is reasonable.”1 Once the restraint becomes unreasonable, police may face civil, criminal, and administrative repercussions – including loss of their police badge.
For instance, police may use tasers or stun guns to subdue a suspect when a reasonable officer under the same set of circumstances would use a stun gun or taser. When determining whether using tasers or stun guns is reasonable, courts may apply a balancing test of the following considerations:
- the severity of the crime
- the threat to public safety and
- the resistance of the subject2
When police use unreasonable restraint in making an arrest, the victim can bring a civil rights lawsuit for money damages and an injunction. If the officer is employed by the federal government rather than the state or local government, the victim can also bring a Bivens claim demanding monetary damages.
In addition, officers who use excessive force during an arrest may face criminal prosecution for battery and related crimes. And the victim can file an internal affairs complaint with the police department, which may result in the officer getting disciplined or terminated.
- California Penal Code 835 PC – Method of arrest; Reasonable restraint. See also People v. Brown (Cal. App. 1st Dist., 2016), 245 Cal. App. 4th 140, 199 Cal. Rptr. 3d 303. See also Johnson v. Lewis (Cal. App. 3d Dist., 2004), 120 Cal. App. 4th 443, 15 Cal. Rptr. 3d 507.
- Same. Graham v. Connor, (1989) 490 U.S. 386.