Many of our clients are detained by private security guards who make a Citizens Arrest, and are then transferred to the custody of Los Angeles police officers who draft up the police report. The police report is one of the most important pieces of evidence the Prosecution has when charging someone with a crime. The police report contains detailed facts about the incident that gave rise to the alleged crime, and holds high credibility. The report is generally taken as truth by the criminal court and Judge, because it is based on the direct observations of the officers as they made the arrest and the acts leading up to the arrest.
However, in many cases, the officers are not present at the time of the actions leading up the arrest, yet the police report is still taken as valid evidence.
Let’s consider the common example of shoplifting. When a person has been caught shoplifting, the actions are generally observed by in store private security, not by Los Angeles police officers. When officers arrive at the scene, the private security will inform the officers as to what happened, and let officers deal with the next steps in prosecuting someone.
As with any police report the statements entered can be used in Court against the person being charged. This goes the same for whether the statements in the report are based on officer observation, or by a private security officer. However, the words of a police officer who directly observed the event will hold more credibility in a court of law than those of any other person.
When a police officer did not directly observe the events giving rise to unlawful action, there may be room for holes in the Prosecutor’s case against the person being charged. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney will consider interviewing the security guards and preparing positive letters and statements regarding their client so that the Criminal Judge sees them as an upstanding citizen of the community and more than a case number. They will also prepare a powerful argument that weakens the words of the private security officer.
This tactic is more likely to prove useful when an officer does not have any statements as part of the testimony, because then it is the word of a citizen of the community versus another. When the testimony against you are not the statements of an officer, there is a lot of room for weakness in the Prosecutor’s case. It is important that you seek the help and advice of a criminal expert so that your case has the best possible chances of being reduced or dismissed completely.