Detainment / Arrest – Criminal Liabilities

Crimes are generally defined in the penal statues of a state, or in ordinances of local cities or counties. All persons are expected to know and obey these laws. Anyone who violates a criminal law is subject to a fine and/or a term in jail or prison. The potential for punishment as a result of violating a criminal law is called Criminal Liability.

Some acts by security officers by which criminal liability is possible include:

  • Intimidation: Do not threaten physical harm or otherwise frighten people when they do not cooperate or confess to a crime.
  • Excessive physical force: When an arrest is made, the law allows the person making the arrest to use force that is responsible and necessary to restrain the suspect. A person may use force, but not deadly force, against the person being arrested to the degree that is reasonable and necessary to prevent the person being arrested from committing suicide or harming himself. When more force is used than the law allows, the arresting party is said to have used “excessive force.” The arresting party may be held criminally and civilly liable if excessive force is used.
  • Possession of prohibited weapons: Receiving a security officer’s commission does not entitle you to carry another weapon other than a firearm.
  • False arrest: (unlawful restraint): A private person making an arrest may be found criminally liable if the offense did not happen within their presence or view and the offence was neither a felony nor a misdemeanor against the public peace. If you arrest a person and it did not meet the above criteria, you could be charged with the criminal offense of Unlawful Restraint (PC 20.02), which is punishable by fine and/or jail or prison time or both.

Examples include:

  • Traffic stops and the use of emergency vehicle lighting and sirens
  • Entry into premises not under the officer’s control
  • Giving the impression the officer is connected in any way with the law enforcement or a government subdivision.
  • Use of the state flag or seal of Texas
  • The ability to divulge information to anyone other than law enforcement
  • The use of power and authority delegated exclusively to peace officers.