Know Your Rights: What to Do When The Police Want to Search You

Whether it’s about yourself or your dorm mate, you might find yourself in a situation where your dorm is about to be searched. You don’t want to wait until you find yourself in the midst of that situation to learn about what rights you have and what you can do when that happens – you won’t have enough time. If you’re living in a dorm, there are a lot of things you should know about the kinds of privacy you’re entitled to and the rights you have as a resident of that dorm room. Hopefully you’ll never need to use this information, but it’s far better to be prepared in the event that you will.

Know Your Dorm Rules

Your dorm room probably came with a handbook or some kind of written agreement. This agreement will detail when employees of the college or people acting on behalf of the college have the right to enter your dorm. This information usually applies to maintenance workers coming in to perform regular inspections relating to the condition of our dorm, and does not allow them to conduct unreasonable searches, such as going through your drawers. If they want to do that, they need to approach the situation as a criminal one and go through the right channels to do so.

Understand What You Can Do

When the police become involved, they need to have a search warrant to enter your dorm. Staff from your college can enter, but the police should wait outside in the hall. You don’t have to let them in if they aren’t equipped with the proper paperwork. Even if you feel as though you have nothing to hide, you’re best off exercising your right to refuse to allow them in.

If the police do have a search warrant, you need to let them in. Even if they claim they’ll get a warrant if you don’t allow them to enter, you can tell them you want to wait for that warrant. If it’s important enough, they’ll have to get it and prove to you that you no longer have the right to refuse entry. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by police officers who are looking to enter without a warrant – it cannot be used against you if you keep the door closed.

Be Compliant, But Don’t Volunteer 

When the police do have a warrant to enter, you don’t need to guide them to anything or disclose a single thing. You don’t need to talk at all. It might seem polite to cooperate, and you might even feel like you have a few things to explain. It’s probably better to stay quiet. You don’t need to hand over your electronics unless the warrant for searching includes seizure of any specific items – they can’t come in and take whatever they want, and you don’t need to provide them with any passwords.

If the routine search turns up something you’re worried about, you should start investigating legal resources like LY Lawyers. This is important whether or not the things that were found were your personal property or they belonged to your roommate. It’s always better to be protected than to assume everything will blow over.

Above all else, remember to remain calm. Panicking won’t do anyone any favors. If you know your rights, you always know what to expect next.


Hi,my name is Sienna, an education and careers blogger! Feel free to follow me on my Twitter! Thank you.

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