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    Speak Up! - View Question #487

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    Question: I live in a dorm room and the college's policy is that the police may search my dorm room since it is not technically mine, but I pay for it, do the police still require a search warrant according to the 4th amendment?

    Answer: Parents may consent to their child's room being searched, since the home is really the parent's, not the child's. An apartment, on the other hand, is technically the tenant's during the period of the lease, and the landlord cannot consent to police searches on behalf of the tenant. Leases ordinarily provide that landlords can enter for a couple of limited purposes, such as to make repairs or show the place to future tenants, and the landlord must notify the tenant of the intent to enter for one of these purposes. Generally, there is a provision in the written lease covering this.

    A university's lease of a dorm room is more like the apartment situation-that is unless the tenant signed a lease with a provision where the tenant expressly agrees that the university may consent to police searches. In that case, the tenant may be found to have given up their reasonable expectation of privacy in the leased dorm. Warrantless searches are generally found to be illegal when they violate one's reasonable expectation of privacy. If the prosecuting attorney were trying to have such a search upheld in court (rather than having the seized items excluded from a trial's evidence), the prosecutor would argue that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy. If the tenant actually signed a lease provision allowing the university to consent to dorm room searches, the State would have a strong case. If it's merely 'university policy' to allow the police to search dorm rooms, the State's case is much weaker, since the tenant is the leasehold owner with exclusive rights to occupy his/her home during the lease, and this carries a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    1 thru 5 of 8 comments    [ 1 ]  2    
    On 03/15/04
    sean from KY said:
    I live in a dorm with a few other guys. My school enters my apartment without anyone's consent. I don't think it is in the handbook that they can. Is this leagal? Please help. Thanks!
    On 03/04/04
    shakeel from Othe said:
    Evry person as a right to refuse a blood test if they want to and also evry induvidual has a right for not letting anyone invade their privacy.
    On 06/28/03
    Richard from UT said:
    Unfortunately sometimes we must give up our rights because they interfere with other rights you have or other peoples rights. In your case this is a case giving up your rights to no illegal search and seizure, for your right to safety. The nice thing in this case is you had an option when signed the contract, you could have simply lived off campus instead. In other words it was your choice, when you choose between benefits of living on campus, and the rights you would have off campus. With high school searches don't have an option of not to going to school, or going somewhere else. Woul
    On 04/22/03
    rob from MO said:
    It sucks but the 4th amendment doesn't apply to school grounds, they can and will search all areas in or on the schools buildings or curtilage.
    On 01/14/03
    Brian from WI said:
    The second comment posed a question about if his gf can give consent for police to search his room. I am a criminal justice student and from what I have learned I know that anyone that has a legal right to be in your residence may give consent. For instance, if you are having a party and the police show up asking to search. If a friend answers the door and this friend has permission to be on the property then this friend may give consent to search. If the door to your room is closed then it depends on if the person giving consent has legal right to be in that room. If the door was open then t
    1 thru 5 of 8 comments    [ 1 ]  2    

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