Detainment / Arrest – Types of Offenses

Although your normal responsibilities include protection, prevention, observation, and reporting, there may be rare occasions when you consider it necessary to arrest. Every company in the Private Security Industry has different policies about when and if you should arrest a person. If you do not know your company’s policies, find out what they are and follow them! 

A security officer’s legal powers to arrest are the same as any private citizen’s. An arrest made by such a private party is commonly known as a “citizen’s arrest.” Texas Criminal Procedure- Code and Rules specify the conditions under which you, a private citizen, may make an arrest. A private person may arrest another person without a warrant when: 

The offense is committed within his presence or view, and the offense is either:

  • A misdemeanor against the public peace or
  • A felony

The Penal Code classifies crimes into two categories: 

  • Misdemeanors
  • Felonies


Misdemeanors are offenses punishable by a fine and/or term in the county jail. The following two conditions must exist for you to arrest a person on a misdemeanor charge:

  1. The misdemeanor must be against the public peace; not all misdemeanors fit under this category; and
  2. The misdemeanor must be committed within your presence or view.

The following are common examples and are found in section 42.01, “Disorderly Conduct” in the Texas Penal Code:

  1. Use of indecent, abusive, profane, or vulgar language or gesture in a public place to incite an immediate breach of the peace.
  2. Creating, by chemical means, a noxious and unreasonable odor to incite an immediate breach of the peace.
  3. Abuses or threatens a person in a public place in an offensive manner.
  4. Makes an unreasonable noise in a public place or near a private residence that he has no right to occupy.
  5. Fights with another in a public place.
  6. Enters on the property of another and, for a lewd and unlawful purpose, looks into a dwelling on the property through any window or other opening in the dwelling.
  7. Discharges a firearm in a public place other than a public road.
  8. Discharges a firearm on or across a public road
  9. Displays a firearm or other deadly weapon in a public place in a manner to cause alarm.
  10. Exposes his anus or other genitals in public and is reckless about whether another may be present who will be offended or alarmed by his act. 
  11. Assault- if a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another or threatens another with imminent bodily injury.
  12. Indecent Exposure-The act of exposing the person’s anus or any part of his genitals with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of another person and is reckless about whether another person is present who will be offended or alarmed.
  13. Criminal Trespassing- Entering the property of another without permission; refusing to leave when asked. The offense may be aggravated if property is destroyed or damaged.
  14. Criminal Mischief – Maliciously defacing, damaging, or destroying property.

You cannot arrest a suspect for a misdemeanor unless it happens in your presence or view and is against the public peace.

If you arrest a suspect, you must deliver them to a peace officer or magistrate. When they arrive, turn the suspect over to them and make your statement.

Other things you will be expected to do when you make a misdemeanor arrest include:

  • Meeting with the district attorney to discuss the case and give a sworn statement regarding what happened.
  • Attending the suspect’s hearing.
  • Testifying at the suspect’s trial.


A felony is a more serious offense than a misdemeanor and is punishable by confinement in prison to a maximum of death.

The following conditions must exist to arrest a person on a felony charge:

  • The felony must have been committed in your presence or view!

The following are common felonies: 

  • Aggravated Assault (22.02 PC] Assault of a person by another with a deadly weapon or instrument or by any other means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
  • Arson (28.02] The willing and unlawful setting of a fire.
  • Theft (31.03 PC] The taking of money, labor, real or personal property from the person of another. The value must be greater than $1,500 to qualify as a felony.
  • Burglary [30.02 PC] the entering of the residence or property of another with the intent to commit a felony theft or an assault.
  • Kidnapping [20.03 PC] Taking and transporting a person against their will.
  • Robbery (29.02 PC] By force or intimidation, taking personal property from a person or the immediate presence of a person against that person’s will.
  • Sexual assault [22.011 PC] Forcing sexual intercourse.
  • Manslaughter [19.04 PC) Causing the reckless death of an individual.
  • Murder (19.02 PC] An individual intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another individual.

Other statutes that allow arrest or detainment by security officers:

  • Article 18.16 of the Code of Criminal Procedures titled “Preventing consequences of Theft” States that: “all persons have the right to prevent the consequences of theft by seizing any personal property which has been stolen and bringing it, with the supposed offender, i f he can be taken, before a magistrate for examination, or delivering the same to a peace officer for that purpose. To justify such seizure, there must be reasonable grounds to suppose that property to be stolen, and their seizure must be openly made and the proceedings had without delay.”
  • Civil Practices Chapter 124, “Privilege to Investigate Theft,” states, “A person who reasonably believes that another person has stolen or is attempting to steal property is privileged to detain that person in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable time to investigate the ownership of the property.” Security officers working in retail assignments may use the above statute to arrest or detain suspects. 

It is important to remember that the offender must be handed over to the police.

It’s important to comply with the company policy with regard to the arrest or detainment of any person to avoid civil and criminal liability for the officer and the company.

Felony Penalties:

A. Capital

  • 5 years to 99 years, life or death, and/or both a $10,000

B. 1st Degree

  • 2 years to 99 years and/or both a $10,000

C. 2nd Degree

  • 2 years to 20 years and/or both a $10,000

D. 3rd Degree

  • 2 years to 1 0 years and/or a $10,000

E. State Jail

  • 180 days to 2 years and/or a $10,000

Misdemeanor Penalties

  • Class A, up to 1 year in the county jail and/or a $2,000 fine
  • Class B, up to 180 days in the county jail and/or a $2,000 fine
  • Class C, fine only up to $500