“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”

— Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution

This paradigm taken from our Bill of Rights has guided American Jurisprudence since its inception. We have, as a society, come to expect that our personal rights are free from unwarranted government intrusion. Unlike so many countries in the world where the citizens have no private rights, the United States takes great strides to ensure that the following words are followed: “. . . the right to be secure in their persons [and] houses. . .”

By enforcing the fourth amendment, however, we have found that the penalties for violating its prescripts often lead to the frustration of criminals being set free. The American courts have imposed the now well-known Exclusionary Rule to such violations of the Constitution. This means that evidence, including physical objects as well as a suspect’s own statements, will be excluded from evidence during a criminal trial if they were illegally obtained.

We have taken this concept so seriously that even if the illegally obtained evidence was not procured by a police officer, but by a private citizen, the evidence will still be suppressed. Thus, as a private security officer in California, you must learn the law, including the often subtle nuances, to ensure that your actions will be lawful. Only in this way can we ensure that the criminals will be held accountable for their actions. But there are other concerns for you as well.

Not surprisingly, in our litigious society, the good guys often get sued by the criminals. Assuming an arrest was invalid, a search was unreasonable or excessive force was used, the bad guy might sue for a variety of torts: false imprisonment, false arrest, illegal detention, assault, battery, conversion (i.e., theft of personal property), infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, premises liability, and even violation of civil rights based upon discrimination.

The purpose of this advanced module is to go into a bit more detail than the basic courses dealt with regarding the laws of arrest, search and seizure to assist you as a security officer. Much of this you already know, which is a good thing. Hopefully, you will learn a few additional “golden nuggets” of information.

In this way, we hope to make it more likely than not that the criminals will be punished, and that you and the company you work for will be free from any type of civil liability.