Advanced Arrest, Search & Seizure (Lesson 26 of 31)
What Evidence do you need to support the crime or civil action for which an arrest is made?
Good solid evidence to support a criminal conviction is usually nothing more than oral testimony given at trial. As a tip, you can help the prosecution and your attorneys by documenting all of your observations, as well as your perceptions, actions and rationale.
If the suspect is charged with a criminal offense and brought to trial, the prosecution will be required to prove the suspect’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Proof that is “beyond a reasonable doubt” is defined as follows:
“It is not a mere possible doubt; because everything relating to human affairs is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case, which, after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leaves the minds of jurors in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge.” (Penal Code §1096.)
Regardless of whether or not the suspect is charged with a criminal offense, the victim may elect to pursue civil charges against the suspect. For example, the owner of a store may pursue a civil action against a suspect to be compensated for the value of items the suspect stole from the store.
In a civil action, the allegations against the suspect must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. “Preponderance of evidence” means evidence that has more convincing force than that opposed to it. In other words, the plaintiff would have to establish that it is more likely than not that the suspect committed the crime for which he has been accused. However, if the evidence is so balanced that one cannot determine one way or another if the allegations against the suspect are true, then the plaintiff has failed to establish his burden of proof and the suspect will be found not liable.
The “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden of proof is clearly a higher standard than that of “preponderance of the evidence.” More convincing evidence is required to establish proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” than that which is required to establish proof by a “preponderance of the evidence.”
However, as a security officer, you will have no way of knowing when a crime is occurring, whether the perpetrator of that crime will face criminal charges, civil claims, both, or neither. As such, you should observe as much as possible and as closely as possible in order to obtain as much evidence against the suspect as you can. The following categories describe some of the different types of evidence that may be used against a suspect in a later proceeding.