False Arrest/Detention or Imprisonment

False Arrest is defined as the nonconsensual, intentional confinement of a person, without lawful privilege, for an appreciable length of time, however short. A person is falsely imprisoned if he or she is wrongfully deprived of his or her freedom to leave a particular place by the conduct of another.

Generally, private security personnel do not possess powers any greater than the average citizen. As you know, their authority to detain and arrest suspected criminals is more limited than that of a police officer.

A private security officer may detain a person based on probable cause. Probable cause is defined as: “A reasonable ground to suspect that a person has committed or is committing a crime or that a place contains specific items connected with a crime.” (Black’s Law Dictionary 1239 (8th Ed., 2004).

The licensed security officer must be aware of what constitutes probable cause and be able to identify and articulate in the incident report or daily log the specific facts which led the officer to believe probable cause existed.

For example, standards to establish probable cause in a shoplifting/theft case:

  1. See Person Take Property.
  2. See Person Conceal Property.
  3. Constant Observation.
  4. Observe Person Pass Checkouts.
  5. Observe Person Exit Store.