Do Security Guards Have the Same Power as Law Enforcement?

false imprisonment charge, Naperville criminal defense lawyer, security guards, citizen’s arrest, security guard jurisdictionSecurity guards are not law enforcement officers and thus do not have the same authority that officers have to conduct searches and make arrests. However, they are employed to keep stadiums, shopping centers, and other private facilities safe and to prevent theft.

In order to perform their jobs, security guards are authorized to take certain law enforcement-like actions, such as restraining an individual who committed a criminal offense until law enforcement can arrive, and using weapons to protect potential victims from harm.

If you are restrained or questioned by a security guard, know your rights. Although they can use reasonable force to keep you under control, they cannot use excessive physical force. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can go over your rights with you and help you navigate future interactions with security guards, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system. 

A Security Guard Can Make a Citizen’s Arrest 

Private citizens, which include private security guards, can make citizens’ arrests. This is not the same as making an official arrest, however, which can only be done by law enforcement. 

Unlike a police officer who can make an arrest when he or she has probable cause to believe a crime occurred, a security guard can only make a citizen’s arrest if he or she witnessed an actual or attempted crime occur. Upon restraining an alleged criminal, the security guard must contact law enforcement as soon as possible to have them take over. Otherwise, the guard could face a false imprisonment charge. 

Private Security Guards have Limited Authority and Authorization Compared to Law Enforcement

Security guards can carry weapons like tasers and handguns, but their scope of permitted use is much narrower than law enforcement’s. A security guard can only use a weapon to prevent a serious felony from occurring or to protect human lives. 

When a security guard uses a weapon in the course of his or her job, he or she must write a detailed report discussing how and why his or her action was legally justified.

Security Guards’ Authority is Only Effective in their Jurisdictions

Security guards have jurisdictions. Typically, a guard’s jurisdiction includes all of the private property he or she was hired to keep secure.

Often, a security guard’s job is to eject an individual from the property because of his or her behavior. Once an individual has been asked to leave or forcibly removed from private property, he or she may be charged with trespassing if he or she attempts to reenter the property. 

Work with an Experienced Geneva Criminal Defense Lawyer

Any time you are facing a criminal charge, it is in your best interest to start working with an experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to develop an effective legal defense strategy. Contact our team at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office, during which we will answer all of your questions and go over your legal options.