Sample Criminal Law Research Paper on Licensing Requirements in Maryland

Legal Authority on Private Security Agencies in Maryland

The legal authority that guides licensing of private security agencies comes from diverse bodies of law. The US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well as the Fourth Amendments play a key role in limiting both federal and state governments’ operations. Among other things, state laws limit negative aspects in response to security personnel. In Maryland, security officers are usually endorsed by the state’s police agency. The agency offers certification to all qualified personnel, in addition to supplying permits to both handgun and body protective-covering equipments. Concerning armed security, Maryland laws do not permit wearing, carrying, or conveying of handguns (“Licensure of Security Guard,” 2015). Although regulations for licenses vary, many states share general principles.

Since licensing requirements are based on several laws, a single law cannot serve as a “book of references” in offering the limitations of legal authority. No federal law exists to guide the private security agencies; hence, each state is free to establish its own regulations to govern the industry (Boyes-Watson, 2013). What happens is that states institute precedents to act as guidelines in case of injuries or harm, which may result during lawsuits. In Maryland, such precedents become the source of authority and they usually outline the scope of authority to guide the private security personnel. In addition, the law scrutinizes the core categories and cases concerning the private security agencies’ operations.

The requirement that security agencies in Maryland be certified before they are allowed to offer security services within the state does not limit the capacity for businesses to utilize their employees, but rather ensures that the laws concerning security forces are observed. Maryland has established Title 19 of Maryland’s Business Occupations and Professions Article necessitates any person conducting a business that offers security guard services within the state to be licensed through the Maryland State Police (“Licensure of Security Guard,” 2015). This implies that only security guard that are certified by the state’s police, or are waiting for a response of their certification can be employed by security guard agencies. 

To qualify for certification, an applicant for security guard needs to be backed by a licensed agency. Apart from possessing a license, private security companies are obliged by the law to register security guards personnel under their license. Maryland law does not indicate the age limit for application, but an applicant must be at least fourteen years, which is the legal age of employment. Some of the requirements that an individual needs to apply for a license as an armed security guard in Maryland include:

  1. An application that must be filled out indicating the required fee, and all the information for approval
  2. Two passport-size photos appended to the application
  3. Legible fingerprints on a standard fingerprint card, together with the fee for records check. The State Police is the only department that can offer fingerprint cards.

However, a person who has committed certain offense may be denied a chance for certification and employment in the department of armed security if he/she has been convicted of felony that include abduction, kidnapping, burglary, murder, and manslaughter. According to Robinson (2015), people who have been found guilty of rape, narcotic addiction, or drunkenness are also denied certification. Additionally, falsification of information in the application can deny the armed security guard a certification and license. After verification on criminal background, the applicant who wishes to continue to serve the state as private security guard is permitted to apply for the license. The initial application is perceived as a renewal of an already expired license.

Law enforcement officers in Maryland are not required to get a license while qualified security officers may be allowed to work temporary as they wait for their applications to be approved (Robinson, 2015). Additionally, the Maryland State Police lacks the jurisdiction to relinquish the legal requirements of carrying a handgun. Criminal Laws in Maryland only allow individuals to wear, carry, or transport a handgun if he/she works in a supervisory role within the area of business establishment, with an authority from the business owner (“Licensure of Security Guard,” 2015). 

The legal authority awarded to private security workforce varies from that of public officers. Thus, the precedents are established mainly to tackle issues that differentiate functions of private security personnel from the functions of public officers, particularly in prevention and reduction of crime. Typically, private security personnel lack more authority to carry out certain tasks than private citizens except when they possess special powers. Maryland allows private security officers to have supplementary powers under special police commissions. The constitutional rules, which restrain public law enforcement from mistreating the American citizens, do not pertain to private security personnel if they are not confirmed as peace officers (Boyes-Watson, 2014).

The main disparity noted between private security officers and public officers is the authority presented to each sector. A public officer’s main role is to enforce the laws while a private officer is tasked with protecting property and people. Both officers may have the same authority, but their influence is limited by their location. Initially, police officers, who are public officers, had a duty to respond to crime and disorder in their areas of authority, but security personnel who work for private security agencies usually respond to crime faster due to their availability. Private security officers are concerned with the interests of their employers while public officers understand that they have to safeguard public interests through offering protection and minimizing cases of violence in their region.

Private security firms in Maryland are required by law to have a license, unlike public firms that receive directives from the state. A private officer is permitted by the law to question a crime suspect, but can only undertake a citizen’s arrest. Private security officers rarely make arrests, and when an arrest is required, they seek help from public officers who are trained in taking crime suspects into custody. Public officers are usually trained to handle numerous issues, such as detaining, search, and arresting crime suspects while private personnel are limited by their training, which is usually on one area.

The legal rights that the private security companies possess are derived from the property rights where private owners hire private security guards to safeguard them and their properties. The legal limitations concerning the private security guards in Maryland are that they are required to obtain licenses in order to undertake their duties effectively. The Maryland State Police hold immense power in directing the licensure of both private security companies and their personnel. Applicants are required to adhere to all rules to avoid being denied a chance to work as private security personnel. 


Boyes-Watson, C. (2014). Crime and justice: Learning through cases. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Licensure of Security Guard Agencies and Security Guards (2015, April 29). Maryland State Police Licensing Division, Advisory. Retrieved on 13 Feb. 2016 from

Robinson, R. (2015). How to become a Maryland licensed security guard. Trust Security Services. Retrieved on 13 Feb. 2016 from