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Key points for college students when dealing with campus police

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Defense |

There is a natural excitement for Pennsylvania college students. The newfound freedom of an independent life might seem overwhelming, but there are significant rewards. Still, when there is an issue where campus police becomes involved, it is common to be confused as to how to react.

Campus police and their legal authority

It is important to understand the role of campus police and what students are legally required to do. Every campus will have some form of security force. Often, that involves campus police. They have legal authority to conduct investigations and take steps to ensure safety. People on campus are required to follow the same rules they would off-campus when dealing with law enforcement entities. Security officers are different. They do not have the same level of authority as police, but they can conduct investigations to a certain point.

Regardless of whether it is a campus police officer or security, the Fifth Amendment rights are in effect and the person can choose to remain silent. When campus police are investigating, it is within a person’s rights to ask for an attorney. Searches are regulated by the Fourth Amendment. The officer is not allowed to search a person unless there is probable cause to do so. There is also the right to refuse a dorm room search, but this frequently hinges on campus rules and agreements residents will have signed. If criminal conduct is alleged, there may need to be a warrant to conduct a search.

Even on college campuses, people have legal rights

It can be intimidating when there is a law enforcement investigation. When it involves campus police and there are questions or accusations of college student crimes, there might be a natural impulse to simply do whatever the apparent authority figure says. That could be a mistake as it might surrender various rights and protections. Since college students’ lives can be upended by an arrest, it is vital to remember the law and avoid saying or doing anything to potentially make the situation worse. Legal protection may be key from the outset.