We know Spider-Man can physically do whatever a spider can, and he can climb around and shoot net everywhere he wants in his own home, but can he legally use these powers the way he does in the comics? That answer isn’t so obvious, and indeed, if he were real, Spidey would probably be well advised to contact a legal representative like skilled attorney Peter Liss before he starts swinging from a web outside.
Good Samaritan Laws and Rescues
Interestingly, as Spider-Man is actively working to fight crime and rescue citizens of New York, he would be pretty well covered. Good Samaritan Laws and Citizen’s Arrest Laws would allow him to do most of his good deeds. While some people Spider-Man rescues might not be happy to land in a gross, sticky spider web, Good Samaritan Laws protect him from being at risk from legal and civil actions related to saving another person’s life.
Similarly, while Spider-Man might not actually be an officer of the law, he can still detain people using the minimum required force necessary under Citizen’s Arrest Laws. While these laws vary from place to place, Spidey would generally be safe when it comes to arresting bad guys.
If Spider-Man accidentally arrested the wrong person or someone who was not actually committing a crime though, he could be charged with false imprisonment, and even with his Spider-Sense, he would most likely end up in this situation on occasion. (Of course, that’s nothing compared to the charges Wanda Maximov could face.)
Can Spider-Man Legally Climb Buildings?
Additionally, Spider-Man’s means for finding wrong-doers could easily put him on the wrong side of the law. That’s because climbing downtown buildings -particularly historical buildings, can land you in hot water. Common charges for those climbing buildings include reckless endangerment and destruction of property. Professional climbers who have free-climbed buildings in New York without seeking permission ahead of time are often cited with reckless endangerment as they put both themselves and those on the ground under them at risk. In some states, like California, reckless endangerment charges only apply if you put other people at risk, so his lawyers would probably be able to clear him from this charge.
Also, by swinging between historical buildings with his strong, sticky web, Spider-Man could very well be causing serious damage to the many historical buildings he anchors himself to. Since Peter Parker is hardly rich enough to preemptively offer to offer to build Spider-proof retrofitting on the buildings he uses the most often, that means Spider-Man could be charged with destruction of property as soon as one of these buildings shows unnatural wear and tear thanks to his acrobatics.
If he scaled buildings in other states, he could face additional charges. For example, in California, scaling buildings can also result in trespassing and vandalism charges. If the damage done to the buildings exceeded $400, he could face felony charges and if the damage exceeded $10,000 in value, Peter could be made to pay $50,000 in fines -way more than he likely makes in a year at the Daily Bugle.
Spider-Man Can’t go to Jail!
Granted, Peter could probably defend himself fairly well in jail, but being arrested and charged would reveal his secret identity, putting his loved ones at risk, so he should probably stop swinging from rooftops or at least speak to a lawyer before he risks these types of charges.
If you have been bitten by a radioactive spider or are just concerned your penchant for climbing skyscrapers could land you in legal hot water, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Mr. Liss.