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Dorm room searched by campus police just now

ColeytownColeytown Registered User Posts: 89 Junior Member
edited May 2011 in Parents Forum
Just got off the phone with DS (freshman) - apparently his roommate was caught outdoors on campus smoking a joint, (DS was in the room at the time), so 3 campus police and asst. dean of housing came to his room and said they were going to search it.

They searched the room and found more pot in the roommates prescription bottle in RM's dresser, then proceeded to search DS's belongings and found his (DS's) fake ID in his drawer which they confiscated.

DS called us with asst. dean in background and said we have to call the director of student affairs tomorrow and that he will need to go to a hearing...any words of advice?

DS called back and says he thinks his roommate (presidential scholar, top student getting a scholarship - will be suspended and lose scholarship). He hasn't seen him since he was caught.

Did the campus police have the right to search the room? What penalties will our son potentially face?

P.S. this is a private jesuit school, if that matters. Just looking for some insight from any other parents who've had a similar experience.
Post edited by Coleytown on

Replies to: Dorm room searched by campus police just now

  • CPUscientist3000CPUscientist3000 Registered User Posts: 5,450 Senior Member
    I don't know if I'm totally correct, but they were searching for things from your son's roommate. So anything they found in your son's possession (the fake ID) can't be confiscated. And he can't get in trouble.

    This is all providing they had a warrant, which would have clearly dictated what they were searching for, and what their search boundaries were.
  • kayfkayf Registered User Posts: 4,161 Senior Member
    CPUS, I dont agree with you. Not a lawyer, but my belief is that they can search room. btw, the fake ID is a federal offense. When you call the dean you will find out what they want. You may want to go on school website and find out their sanctions. If they say they are calling in police, you need a lawyer. Hopefully they will treat ID as alchohol violation -- most schools first offense is a prevantion course, but I dont know jesuit.

    Hugs and prayers. My advice when you talk to dean is listen, be contrite and hope for the best.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Registered User Posts: 15,696 Senior Member
    Pretty sure they don't need a search warrant to search a dorm room.
  • ColeytownColeytown Registered User Posts: 89 Junior Member
    They did NOT have a warrant. I asked because I wondered the same thing, DS claimed that they said because they caught RM with pot, they could search his room.

    I have a problem with them searching DS's things as well. I'd like to be prepared before I speak to the Director of student affairs. I also don't like the idea of my son going to a hearing - he likes his RM very much (as do we), and planned on rooming with him next year.
  • ColeytownColeytown Registered User Posts: 89 Junior Member
    Possession of a fake ID is a federal offense? My BIL and SIL are both attorneys (not criminal) and neither mentioned that when I called.

  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,425 Senior Member
    No advice other than I would be downloading and reading every single word in the student handbook. It should spell out the college policy regarding these sorts of things. You'd have to find out of the campus police have the same authority under the particular laws governing the college location as the jurisdiction police if you are questioning the legality of the search, but legality aside, the handbook should spell out the colleges "rights" to search student dorm rooms. So sorry you are going through this.
  • CPUscientist3000CPUscientist3000 Registered User Posts: 5,450 Senior Member
    Kayf- my knowledge is coming from frequent visits to my civics (us govt) class last year by lawyers, judges, probation officers, policemen, etc.

    They gave us this example:
    Say a man was suspected of selling illegal drugs out of his house. The search warrant would dictate certain parameters of the search, and what they were looking for. Even if he had a gun sitting on the table, they can't legally take it because they were there to confiscate drugs ONLY. I thought it was pretty crazy, but it's true (according to the above people.)

    Just like numerous episodes of NCIS, CSI, etc. When cops go "looking around" someplace where their suspect might be hiding something. Two cops went looking around in a garage. They obviously smelled dead bodies behind a sealed door, but they couldn't open it because their findings would be invalidated (no warrant) and they'd have to secure one before they could search it (the suspect could have removed everything.) It's a trap.

    Sorry for the tangent. OP- I'd get a legal professional to see whether they had the right to search, even though the campus police are actual police. At my school(HS) we have a regular police officer there. But he can't legally search our lockers (he'd need a warrant, even with strong evidence) only teachers, the principal, and security guards (non policemen) are legally allowed to search our lockers (no warrant necessary.)

    Hope all goes well.
  • kayfkayf Registered User Posts: 4,161 Senior Member
    Coley, I dont think they need a warrant. The school owns the dorm room. Do you not understand the difference between THEIR dorm room and YOUR house?

    OP, Stop worrying about the RM, and start worrying about your kid. I think your first concern is whether any hearing will be confidential, or whether results go on his record and to the police. I have a problem with the search too, but I dont think there is anything you can do about it.

    These are excerpts from the nearest Jesuit school to me

    ". Students are not permitted to possess, conspire to obtain, use, produce, sell or
    distribute false identification or identification that alters one’s age.

    If Residential Life or Security staff suspect that there is alcohol in a student’s bag
    or room, the bag or room of the student can be thoroughly searched (including a
    search of the refrigerator)."

    Go on line, look at the student life or residential handbook for the school

    Coley, i dont know first hand the ID is a federal offense, but they said that at my kids HS.

    Coley, please check the handbook. If necessary, see if you can get hearing delayed while you figure out how to handle.
  • ColeytownColeytown Registered User Posts: 89 Junior Member
    I appreciate everyone's comments, my son is a good kid, and so is his roommate. Thank you for not being judgmental.

    My SIL is making phone calls tomorrow re: legal issues.

    I'll see if I can find the handbook and let you know how it goes.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Registered User Posts: 15,696 Senior Member
    CPU - A dorm is not private property like, say, a private off campus apartment would be. Different rules.

    Good luck Coley.
  • ColeytownColeytown Registered User Posts: 89 Junior Member
    "Coley, I dont think they need a warrant. The school owns the dorm room. Do you not understand the difference between THEIR dorm room and YOUR house?"

    Well, renters have the same rights as homeowners, do they not? (I'm actually not sure, but I would hope so).
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Registered User Posts: 13,334 Senior Member
    The ID is a federal offense becuase of the patriot act. It is also a felony, these days, in most states. Some enforce. Some do not. But it's up to school police and the school what they will do with this.

    The dorms are school property and they reserve the right to enter at any time. They do not need a warrant on any campus I have ever heard of. When you sign the housing contract you did not read, it says that in most of them. fwiw

    Good luck to you. Some schools have a policy of holding both roommates responsible in the case of drug or MIP so that a roommate cannot stash stuff on his/her roommate's side of the room and 'get out of trouble.' But, since it was in the kid's perscription? Who knows?
  • WirefoxWirefox Registered User Posts: 194 Junior Member
    Coleytown, Read this post and then looked online regarding fake IDs. Check this link, it gives information for each state. I have no idea how accurate it is. I certainly hope this works out well for you and your son.
  • northeastmomnortheastmom Registered User Posts: 12,379 Senior Member
    No it is not private property, but OP's son had his privacy invaded because his roommate was caught doing something illegal. OP's son was not caught doing anything wrong and his things were searched. Does one give up their "rights" if a roommate does something illegal? I don't know the answer regarding a college campus. I would read the student handbook and housing contract to see that might shed some light on the situation.
  • KeeterMomKeeterMom Registered User Posts: 103 Junior Member
    My understanding also is that a fake ID is a federal offense. Google it :(
This discussion has been closed.