Exclusionary Rule vs. Private Security: A Case Study

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Exclusionary Rule vs. Private Security The exclusionary rule is "a rule that disallows the use of illegally obtained evidence in criminal trials" (Exclusionary Rule). Security officers, in general, usually have the same authority as a citizen. The exclusionary rule generally does not apply to private security unless it is abusive or becomes an invasion of privacy (Chapter 7: Security and the Law). Facilities that hire private security personnel should always have clear policies on what is and what is not allowed, such as for search and seizure. In cases of force, training and adequate documentation of that training is required. In the case of Santiago v. State of New Mexico (Santiago v. State of New Mexico, 2009), security officers had responded to a fight and caught the defendant running out the front door of the Mall they were working at. The defendant was pinned to the ground and handcuffed. The security guards searched the defendant by reaching inside his pockets and removing several items, including a pill bottle containing four grams of cocaine. Shortly after, police showed up and the defendant, as well as the removed items, was turned over to police. The defendant moved to suppress the cocaine and inculpatory statements in District Court. Suppression was granted as a fruit of the poisonous tree under the exclusionary rule. The Court of Appeals upheld the motion with the claim that private security officers were 'state actors'. The Supreme Court upheld that the
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