Private citizen


A private citizen is someone who does not have an official or professional role in a given situation.[1]

The same person may be a private citizen in one role, and an official in another. For example, a legislator is an official when voting in the legislature, but a private citizen when paying taxes or when undertaking a citizen's arrest in a public place.

A person may remain a private citizen even when having considerable political power and influence:

...Pericles, in his capacity as a private citizen, was able to dominate the affairs of the Athenian assembly, and to direct and guide the demos for nearly a generation.[2]

In law Edit

Private citizens in qui tam actions bring suit on behalf of the state but are not officers of the court, and are possibly eligible for a reward.[3]

Private citizens may have the right to make citizen's arrests under certain circumstances, despite not being sworn law-enforcement officials.

Private citizens may have the right to bring citizen suits to enforce a statute.

A government employee may be considered to be a private citizen in the context of law enforcement actions. For example, an emergency medical technician who discovered contraband on a patient was ruled not to be a "government agent" for the purposes of the constitutional restrictions on government searches.[4][5]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2014, s.v., definition 5
  2. ^ Graham Maddox, "Democratic theory and the face to face society", Politics 9:1:56-62 (1974) as quoted in Sparkes, A. W. (1988). "Idiots, ancient and modern". Australian Journal of Political Science. 23 (1): 101–102. doi:10.1080/00323268808402051.
  3. ^ Gerald N. Hill, Kathleen Hill, Nolo's Plain English Law Dictionary, 2009, ISBN 1413310370, s.v. "qui tam action", p. 350
  4. ^ Ken Wallentine, Street Legal: A Guide to Pre-trial Criminal Procedure for Police, Prosecutors, and Defenders, 2007, ISBN 1590318226, p. 145
  5. ^ Walter v. United States