Security guards often try to dress in a manner that makes people think of police officers. They do this because when they confront someone whom they suspect of a criminal act, like shoplifting, that person may automatically defer to the perceived authority of their uniform.
Still, appearances aside, many people will continue to try to leave the premises when confronted by a security guard. Those who work in private security may then attempt to trick or coerce the person that they suspect of criminal activity into waiting until law enforcement arrives. They may even act like law enforcement officers, which could lead to them breaking the law.
Some security professionals will cross a line at work
In some cases, their behavior crosses the line from questionable or controlling to outright inappropriate. There have even been situations that resulted in the security professional getting arrested for aggressive and illegal behavior in California retail settings.
Did you experience a false arrest at the hands of a security officer who threatened you, used physical force against you or forced you into a space and didn’t let you leave?
Preventing someone from legally leaving a space is false arrest
Unless you encounter law enforcement officers who have reason to question you or probable cause to arrest you, most people don’t have the legal right to prevent you from moving freely. Those who work in security might engage in behaviors that infringe upon the basic rights of the people they suspect of criminal activity in the process of trying to do their job.
For example, they might make unnecessary physical contact with someone suspected only of a minor property offense. Laying hands on someone, physically restraining them or becoming violent toward a suspect accused of nonviolent property offenses unnecessarily escalates the situation and may be a violation of that individual’s basic rights.
The security worker could also threaten or coerce you into staying against your will or block you into a confined space as a means of keeping you at the store. They don’t have to put restraints on you or lock you in a room to commit false arrest against you.
What does a false arrest mean for you?
Depending on the circumstances, a false arrest may have eventually led to an actual arrest when police officers arrived and heard the story of the security officer. It may be possible to take action against the security firm or retail business that violated your rights. You may also be able to use the inappropriate behavior of security professionals in your defense against any pending criminal charges. Talking with an attorney about this possible violation of your civil rights is a wise first step.