A malicious mischief charge against St. John businesswoman Cidney Hamling, owner of Connections and Connections East, were dismissed in V.I. Superior Court on Monday, November 21. Hamling was arrested on Friday afternoon, November 18, for throwing away copies of a free tabloid publication in Cruz Bay. The island business and community leader was apprehended by V.I. Police Department officers in a citizens arrest by one of the publishers of the Virgin Verve.
The case was dismissed after the co-publishers failed to attend a probable cause hearing for Hamling, who distributes a number of free publications through her message service offices.
Basically, citizens arrests are used mostly for misdemeanor situations which are crimes with a penalty of less than a year in prison and less than $1,000 in fines, said V.I.P.D. spokesperson Sgt. Thomas Hannah.
A person who observes someone breaking a law can call the VIPD and request assistance in making a citizens arrest, Sgt. Hannah explained.
Because the misdemeanor did not occur in our presence we cannot make an arrest, Sgt. Hannah said. What a person can do in that instance is affect a citizens arrest the person will say you are under arrest and the police will assist and take that person away in handcuffs.
The person under arrest is then booked and must post bail before being released by according to Sgt. Hannah. The person who makes the citizens arrest must follow up by going to the Department of Justice to file a complaint within 48 hours, the VIPD spokesperson continued.
A probable cause hearing is then scheduled which both the person who made the citizens arrest and the person who was arrested must attend, Sgt. Hannah added.
If the person who made the citizens arrest fails to attend the court hearing, the charges are dismissed. The complainant can re-file charges within one year when the statute of limitations for misdemeanors expires.
The publishers of the free tabloid publication, Rich Dominguez and Andy Glassmeyer, failed to appear at the probable cause hearing in Territorial Court on November 21.
The V.I. government moved to dismiss the case, according to the defendant.
Hamling and the arresting officer were present for the hearing, she added.
Although executing a citizens arrest sounds like a straight-forward process, residents should carefully consider their actions, Sgt. Hannah explained.
It sounds simple to make a citizens arrest, but it is not that simple, said Sgt. Hannah. We do not ascribe for people to attempt to make a citizens arrest when a person has committed a felony someone will get physical and someone can get hurt or killed.
If you are going to affect a citizens arrest, make sure that a police officer or police officers are present, he said. Think before you take any action.