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Do you have to let the police into your dorm room?

You know that you do not have to consent to a police search of your home. If the police knock and ask to come in, you can tell them that you don’t give them permission without a warrant. But what about a dorm room? You do not own the building; you are just renting the room from the college. If the police come to that door, do you have to let them in?

They may try to intimidate you or make you think you have to let them enter, but you do not. Even though it’s a rented space, the same rights apply. You can tell them to come back with a warrant or stay out of the room. You do not have to consent to a search and telling them that they can’t enter is not enough, all on its own, for them to then get a warrant from a judge.

Some of the same exceptions do apply, however, such as the warrant noted above. With it, they can enter without your consent. They can also do so if they are in “hot pursuit” of someone whom they think committed a crime. Maybe they are chasing your roommate for alleged theft on campus, for example, and he or she ducks into the room. They may enter to make the arrest. They may also be able to do so if there is an emergency situation or if they can see evidence of illegal activities (alcohol bottles when you are underage, drug paraphernalia, etc.) in plain view from the door.  Even without a warrant, they may stick around outside of your dorm room door.

If law enforcement officers use these exceptions, they will have to provide evidence regarding why the search was justified when you wind up in court. If you think they did not have justification and searched your room illegally, make sure you are aware of the defense options you have.  Call the Blackwelder Law Firm today.