Retailers and night club owners have the right to protect their property and patrons from criminal activity. In the case of retailers, a store owner has what is called the “shopkeepers privilege”. This allows the store security to detain you for a reasonable period of time if they have reasonably believed a crime occurred.

However, in the context of such situations, poorly trained security officers can falsely imprison customers who have done nothing wrong. In one of my cases, the defendant was offered a sample from an employee who spoke very little English. He was subsequently physically taken from the front of the store, in front of his fiance and handcuffed in the security office. This is false imprisonment.

Because the officer did not bother to check and see whether the sample was free, or even speak with the employee, the store is probably now looking at substantial liability on their part. To exacerbate the matter, the District Attorney of that County filed criminal charges against the customer, based upon the report of the security officer. The police were never called.