What you and your college student need to know about campus police
If your child is in college, they may or may not take campus police seriously. Many college students don’t even consider campus police to be “real” police. Whether they are or not varies by state and by school.
If your son or daughter goes to school at one of the University of Florida campuses, you — and your child — should know that, according to the UF Police Department, “university police officers are declared to be law enforcement officers of the state… with the right to arrest in accordance with the laws of this state, any person for violation of state law or applicable county or city ordinances when such violations occur on any property or facilities…of the State University System.” UF police officers can also make arrests off campus as long as their pursuit of the suspect began on campus.
Palm Beach County alone has about 10 colleges and universities. Whether your child goes to school in Palm Beach County or elsewhere in Florida, it is crucial that your child has strong, forward-thinking legal representation if problems arise involving criminal charges.
College students have constitutional rights
A college student has the right to remain silent and decline to answer an officer’s questions, whether the officer works for a police department or a security company hired by the school. However, it’s important to understand that your child could face disciplinary action from the school for noncooperation, and it’s important to have legal guidance as soon as possible if your child is suspected of a criminal offense.
The bottom line is that students don’t give up their constitutional rights when they go to college. Just as they have the legal right to remain silent, they are also afforded protections against illegal search and seizure. That applies to a search of their person as well as their dorm room.
While students living in university-owned housing typically have to allow personnel in to do things like maintenance, police don’t have the right to search a dorm room without a warrant or the occupants’ permission. Just as with any kind of search, there may be exceptions — such as if the police believe the destruction of evidence is in progress.
Of course, there are usually at least two people living in most dorm rooms and other types of university housing. Therefore, if your child’s roommate gives officers permission to look around and they see evidence of criminal activity, such as illegal drugs, on your child’s desk, that is going to be a problem that may require help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
If your college student is facing criminal charges, it is essential that you seek experienced legal guidance right away.