How much authority do they have?
Unfortunately, in North Carolina, the laws that define the line between “security guard” and “bouncer” are vague. For the purposes of this blog, we find bouncers to be considered employees acting in connection with the business affairs of their employer.
A bouncer has no more authority than any other citizen. Although “bouncer” falls under a sub-category of security guards, most of the “bouncers” do not have a Private Protective Services License. The Private Protective Services Board requires any “person, firm, association, or corporation” that purchases or offers security services for another person, firm, association, or corporation to acquire a Private Protective Service License.
The main job of club bouncers is to monitor and observe patrons. Other tasks include checking ID’s, protecting innocent bystanders, and if need be, calling the police. It is important that bouncers use verbal communication instead of physical force. If they believe a customer is too intoxicated, they can deny entry into the establishment or escort them out, but they cannot physically remove them. Or if there is a fight, they can break it up, but they must use reasonable force.
Furthermore, in North Carolina, all citizens, including bouncers, are legally allowed to detain another person as long as they have probable cause to believe that the person they would like to detain has committed “in his presence, a felony, a breach of the peace, a crime involving physical injury to another person, or a crime involving theft or destruction of property” and notifies a law-enforcement officer immediately. In addition, everyone is free to defend him or herself from an attack or battery. So if you assaulted the bouncer, he has every right to defend himself and/or detain you. It is best not to provoke or harass the bouncer or assault or attack any of the other patrons.
Sometimes, a situation will arise where a bouncer may use too much force against a patron. For example, if you attack a bouncer and multiple other bouncers decide to join in the fight against you (at an uneven level) or they put you in a chokehold or wristlock, you may have a legitimate claim. Another example is if you were verbally harassing the bouncer and he punches or kicks you. In addition, bouncers are not allowed to physically remove you from the establishment. This is important: Bouncers do not have the right to get physical with you unless it is in self-defense, to break up a fight, or to protect other patrons.
What to do if you feel that a bouncer has unfairly assaulted you
If a security officer or a bouncer assaulted you, you should contact a personal injury attorney in your city or state as soon as possible to discuss the next step for you to take.
Important information if you are a Bouncer
It is completely legal to act as a bouncer without obtaining a private protective services as long as you do not cross the gray line between private employee and security guard. One of the ways to cross this gray line is if you were to carry a deadly weapon. If you do not have an Armed Security Guard License, DO NOT carry a weapon on you while you work. Another mistake would be to label yourself as a security guard or as a law enforcement officer. You are not one and you could face criminal penalties for doing so.
If you are a bouncer or you want to become a bouncer and would like some basic training before hand. You can find more information at Lasorsa & Associates.
If you would like to obtain a Private Protective Services License
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, in order to obtain a license, you must be at least 18 years old, a US citizen or resident alien, have a high school diploma or equivalent, have no criminal record, and be “of good moral character with temperate habits.” If you have all of these things, you can follow this link to their application checklist for more information.
What to do if you have been charged with “assault and battery”
If you’ve been charged with assault or battery, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney in your state before your first court date. If you were charged in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, you can click here and our office will be in contact soon to offer advise or services.