Dad Law: I Cannot Believe They Are Adults (Part 2)!

With my older daughter now a second semester freshman, I never thought that there would be a second part to “legally she is an adult.” I am confident that, as an adult and as a college student, she is prepared to understand and appreciate what is asked of her. Of course, I also can say with confidence that I hope she will only need to apply such capacities in a different context than what follows!

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently ruled that Boston College police officers acted legally when they searched student dormitory rooms without a warrant. The search, prompted by reports that the students had weapons, found weapons—which were legal, but violated college rules—and also drugs. In the case, a resident director called campus police to say that she had received reports that a student living in the dormitory had been bullying students and waving a knife. Police officers and campus officials then went to the room in question, knocked, and eventually entered when the students living there opened the door.

While the students first denied having any weapons, they eventually admitted to having plastic replicas. At that point, the police officers asked to search the room for more weapons. The students signed waivers indicating that they had received Miranda warnings and consented to the search.

The subsequent search turned up a large amount of drugs, and the students were arrested and indicted on charges of trafficking and possession of illegal drugs with intent to distribute.

The Appeals Court found that the search was legitimate. Among the highlights of its ruling:

  • Since Boston College’s policies clearly banned the weapons, and the police officers were acting on a legitimate report about weapons and had every right to enforce the college’s rules.
  • The Court rejected the students’ argument that the college, by not telling them that they didn’t have to consent to a search, at that moment, made them think they had no choice.
  • The Court noted that the students were given —and signed—a waiver. “The defendants were college students whose age and level of education equipped them to understand what was being asked of them and that they had an option to refuse…A person of average intelligence would necessarily comprehend that refusal was an option.”

Going to college does not mean leaving your common sense at home with your parents! Hopefully that is a concept that all of our children—adult or not— can appreciate.

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