Do security pros have to use Miranda rights?

Feb. 10, 2012
Do you have to "Mirandize" shoplifting suspects and other suspects held for questioning?

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense." 

These very powerful words were mandated in 1966 by the United States Supreme Court (384 U.S. 436). In March 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested for a petty theft and questioned by the Phoenix police for approximately two hours without an attorney being present. During that interrogation, Miranda admitted to the theft and also to the kidnapping and rape of then 18-year-old Patricia Ann Weir.

In my consulting business, I'm often asked about the need for retail security/loss prevention staff to advise shoplifters, in custody, of their Miranda rights. The answer is no and here's why.

The requirement applies to governmental employees or more to the point, law enforcement officers. The issue here is sovereignty. Private persons, such as retail loss prevention agents and other private security persons who are employed by private sector businesses do not represent the sovereignty of the state. Therefore, retail security employees are not required legally to "Mirandize" or provide a suspect with their "Miranda" rights.

Now here is where the retail security industry has complicated the issue. Some security directors, past and present, have written into policy that their staff members must give shoplifting suspects, in custody, their "Miranda Rights." This thinking stems from their prior law enforcement experience where it was mandatory that they do so. As the saying goes, "Sometimes it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks."

I routinely advise my clients not to start a policy of "Mirandizing" shoplifting suspects, but also caution them to check with their local police jurisdictions, as there have been isolated cases where some local courts want shoplifting suspects to be "Mariandized."

As I stated at the start of this blog article, the Ernesto Miranda police case was March 3, 1963. The 49th anniversary of the case is fast approaching and I have included a non-redacted copy of the 24-page police report that started it all. Click here to download and read the original "Miranda" Phoenix Police report, DR# 63-0830.

- Curtis Baillie, CSC – Security Consulting Strategies, LLC

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