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Security guards, bouncers, doormen. What exactly are they allowed to do in California?

The job of a security guard is to observe and protect. For example, guard against theft and respond to medical emergencies. Guards should monitor people and situations for danger. Depending on the circumstance, they may have a duty to act.

Can Security Guards Ask For Identification?

Generally speaking, yes. Security guards working for a private employer and in a private (i.e., non-public) area like a bar or club can ask you for identification. People don’t have an automatic right to enter private property.

Can Security Guards Remove You From Private Property?

It depends on what you mean by remove. If you mean “ask nicely and calmly put a hand on your shoulder and guide you to an exit,” that’s probably ok. If you mean “thrash you about, thrown you down, and you stumble out,” that’s not ok.

Here’s the crucial difference. If you’re not doing anything illegal, a security guard cannot put his hands on you in a forceful manner. Doing so is civil battery. But if you’re doing something illegal, then the security guard could argue he’s doing a citizen’s arrest. Even then, a security guard can only use reasonable force. Here’s another blog I wrote with more info.

Can Security Guards Talk To You And Ask What You’re Doing?

Yes, assuming you’re on private property. Remember, their job is to observe and protect. And people don’t have an automatic right to enter private property, so the security guard may ask what you’re doing there.

Can Security Guards Do Anything To You Off-Site?

Again, generally speaking, no. Security guards are employees of a private business. They’re protecting people and property that are located on the private business’s property.

But if the security guard leaves that property, he has no rights to do anything to you. For example, if you’re asked to leave a bar and you leave the bar, a security guard should not chase you into the street.

Can Security Guards Search You?

No. Doing so arguably violates your constitutional rights.


Security guards’ jobs are straightforward: observe and protect. Security guards are not police. Security guards can ask for identification and ask what you’re doing. They can even remove you from private property, but not with force and violence.

Questions? Contact Me for a free consultation.

Evan Walker

Evan W. Walker is a La Jolla attorney who has practiced law since 2008. He has practiced law throughout California, Connecticut, and Louisiana.

Evan worked for and defended insurance companies during the first 7 years of his practice. Since 2015, he has represented people with personal injury and property damage claims and insurance disputes.

Evan’s practice is devoted to serious personal injury claims and catastrophic property damage claims. Areas of focus include security claims against bars and other businesses, government tort claims, fire and flood claims, and inverse condemnation. On behalf of clients, Evan has fought insurance firms, international companies, cities, bars, and casinos.

Evan regularly shares his expertise with other attorneys by teaching courses on insurance and inverse condemnation. He has taught several continuing legal education courses to Attorney Credits, a nationwide CLE company, and ProLawCLE, another nationwide CLE company. He also contributes to various podcasts and publications.


  • Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, San Diego Bar Association
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego
  • Member, La Jolla Bar Association
  • Member, La Jolla Village Merchants Association
  • Member, San Diego Chamber of Commerce