What should I do if my dorm room is searched?
If your dorm room is searched, be polite but try not to answer any questions. This is harder than it sounds but anything you say may be later used against you. Students often do not realize the criminal defense and student defense consequences of what seem like innocuous answers given during the search of a college dormitory room. As soon as possible, call an attorney with experience defending college students against criminal charges and conduct code violations.
When should I call a lawyer if my dorm room is searched?
You need to call a defense lawyer as soon as possible. Ideally, the best time to speak with a defense lawyer experienced in both student defense and criminal defense is while the search is still taking place. (An even better time is before it starts!) If at all possible, call our law firm while the search is still taking place.
As lawyers experienced with both student defense and criminal defense, we know how to best protect your rights at the earliest possible stage. At this critical moment we can assert your student rights and Constitutional rights with the authorities conducting the search of your college dorm room in a respectful but firm manner.
Do campus police need a warrant to search my college dormitory room?
Probably not. No warrant is likely needed to search your college dorm room because your protection against illegal searches is not absolute. Both your college’s conduct code and the United States Constitution guarantee you certain rights against an illegal search of your college dorm room (and any other kind of illegal search) but those rights are not absolute. For example, most college housing agreements require you to consent to certain types of administrative searches conducted by university officials such as a Resident Advisor or even campus police.
More importantly, the enforcement of those rights tends come only after the search has occurred. So any drugs, alcohol, or other contraband found during the search of your dorm room is likely to result in college conduct code violations and criminal charges long before the opportunity arises to challenge the legality of the search.
What can happen to me if my college dorm room is searched?
Potential consequences include expulsion, suspension, loss of campus housing, and disciplinary probation. Depending on the student conduct code violation resulting from the search of your dorm, such as underage possession of alcohol and drugs or possession of a fake ID, your academic standing may be in jeopardy, as well as your student housing, financial aid, and scholarships. Even future employment can be jeopardized by a student conduct code violation that stays on your academic record and/or disciplinary record.
Can the search of my college dormitory room result in criminal charges?
Yes. If your dorm room is searched, it can lead to criminal charges. College and university disciplinary codes operate entirely outside the criminal justice system but nothing prevents a student from being charged under both a university discipline code as well as being charged criminally by a the police and/or prosecutor.
Even when only university administrators or campus police are involved in the search of your dorm room, off-campus law enforcement authorities may learn of the matter and conduct their own investigation. In some cases, law enforcement officials may work jointly with campus police and university officials in conducting a search of your college dormitory room.
Our defense attorneys are equally skilled in both criminal defense and college or university conduct code violations so we know how to communicate and negotiate with both law enforcement and university officials about issues arising from the search of your dorm room.