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Can my friend or I sue for towing charges over his wrongful arrest and search and seizure of his vehicle?

Fresno, CA |

An individual believed that their laptop was in my friend's vehicle on suspicion alone. My friend refused to let the police search his vehicle, using his 4th amendment right to do so. They did not have a warrant or his consent to search. The laptop's owner then placed my friend under citizen's arrest. They arrested him, said the car had to be towed, and searched it as a result. He spent the night in jail and we went to pick up the car the next day, but had to pay $491 in towing charges because of his arrest. I paid for the charges. From what I understand, citizen's arrest requires a felony to be witnessed by the arresting citizen. No one had witnessed my friend take the laptop, they only had suspicion. So either my friend was arrested for no reason, or the citizen's arrest was wrongful.

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Attorney answers 3


I think you can sue the government or the individual. I'm not sure where or how it should be filed. I was going to sue the government once for wrongfully putting me in jail. As I remember, you only have six months to file that suit. Part of the reason I didn't do it is the damages for spending a night in jail are not usually that high. The juice wasn't worth the squeeze. This question is really not a criminal law question, to get better help post this question in the civil rights section.


One can be arrested by a "citizen" for either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Your friend may or may not have a law suit. Need to see an attorney in person with all of the reports etc.

The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.


If the arrest and detention was without probable cause and you can get past immunity issues you need to file a claim under the Government Tort Claims Act.(180 days).
You need to consult an attorney to evaluate your claim.