Security guards are expected to keep patrons and businesses safe from harassment, violence and theft, but they can’t just go about breaking the arms of anyone who looks like they could present a threat. That’s why it’s not uncommon for security guards to be charged with assault or battery charges related to their work. In fact, it happens to them perhaps more than any other type of employee. If you are a security guard charged with assault or battery, defense attorney Peter M. Liss can help you fight the charges.
Security Guards and Self Defense
Security guards tend to work in one of three positions -there are those who simply observe and report potential crimes, those who keep the peace in places like bars and clubs by ejecting people who pose threats, and those who catch shoplifters and other criminals in retail environments. To perform these tasks, they generally have the power to operate under the legal concepts of citizen’s arrests and self defense.
When it comes to self defense, most people believe that the principal only covers a person’s right to protect themselves from another person who is acting violent. In reality though, self defense gives a person the right to protect themselves or someone else and even to defend their own property. They also are allowed to act in response to realistic threats of imminent violence and do not need to wait until someone does something violent first. It’s easy to see how security personnel working as bouncers in bars and clubs operate within these parameters by ejecting people who pose a threat to clients or the establishment itself.
Use of Reasonable Force
Of course, when ejecting a customer, security guards can’t just beat someone to a pulp because they were too aggressive to a female patron. On the other hand, if a drunk customer pulls a knife, the guards can use more physical force to subdue him. When choosing how much force to use, a bouncer must make a judgement call on the fly, but to use either self defense or to perform a citizen’s arrest, a person must use the minimum required physical force to subdue the other person.
Sometimes security guards are put in jobs requiring them to assume quasi police officer status without training or backup. Unfortunately, they are held to the same standard as the average person using force on another. While seasoned security officers start to master the ability to use the right amount of force for each situation, sometimes too much force is used and the security guard is charged with assault or battery. It’s important to note that if guards are required to physically eject an unruly drunk from their establishment and he falls as they push him, the guards could be at risk of a civil lawsuit, but not criminal charges in most cases. In order to be criminally liable for injuring someone, a guard must have acted intentionally.
It can be fairly hard to prove that a security guard intentionally used more force than necessary for a situation, so prosecutors generally do not bring up charges unless the alleged victim suffered serious injury, the guard has a track record of accusations against him or there is additional evidence that he acted in violation of the law -such as a video. Even so, in most cases, the security officer’s assault and battery defense attorney will usually argue that the guard was acting in self defense or did something on accident.
While security guards charged with crimes related to their duties are generally accused of either assault or battery, those who perform citizen’s arrests can occasionally face charges related to false imprisonment. Again, these complaints are usually handled in civil courts except in particularly egregious situations where the prosecutor finds that an innocent person was held for an unreasonable amount of time. If you have been accused of false imprisonment, you should immediately contact a criminal lawyer to help you fight these charges.
Are You a Security Guard Charged with Assault?
If you are a security guard charged with assault, battery or false imprisonment related to your duties, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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