Can Hotel Guards SEARCH Me at a Vegas Pool?
Sometimes when you enter a business you may see a sign posted on the door saying “we reserve the right to refuse service.” What exactly does that mean?
When entering a private venue, they have every right to refuse you service. They also have the right to make rules such as “we will only serve you if you go through a search.” Unfair? Sure, but then again it’s a private venue, you don’t have to be there in the first place. You chose to be there, now in order to enter you have to follow guidelines put in place by the venue.
Mr. Pariente comments, “A common problem that we see when someone comes into town from out of state is they go to a club or they go to a pool, such as MGM or one of the big casinos, and they are searched by a security guard. The security guard finds some drugs, usually cocaine or ecstasy, and that person is arrested.”
Can security guards search you without any belief that you’ve done anything wrong without any probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity? The answer is yes, they absolutely can. There’s no Fourth Amendment violation.
He continues, “You may ask why they can search you but the police can’t? The police need reasonable suspicion of criminal activity at a minimum to be able to search you and that’s why they are state actors, so the fourth amendment governs. The Fourth Amendment does not apply to a security officer who was working let’s say at a pool, a casino or in a nightclub.”
The reason is these are private property searches and they are not regulated by the Fourth Amendment. These are private searches to go into their pool or to go to the club. They have the right to search you as a condition of you getting into the club. If you don’t want to be searched, you’re welcome to take your business elsewhere.
Mr. Pariente comments, “That’s how people get into trouble. The security guard will find some contraband on you. Now if you’re in this situation, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to a felony or misdemeanor conviction for possession of controlled substance.”
If you’re in this situation or you’ve been arrested, do not plead guilty! Give me a call at my office. If you’re out-of-state, let’s talk over the phone about what we can do to help you. If you’re here in town, come down to my office here in the Howard Hughes center, sit down with me, and I’ll talk about what I can do to help you.