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College student in trouble with the law? Know your rights

When a Virginia college student is facing criminal charges, there is a lot at stake. In addition to the potential for a conviction of a crime, other important factors are at stake as well. If you are a young student who is in trouble with the law, you understand the need to take quick action to build a strong and intentional defense strategy. Part of this will be to know your rights, particularly when dealing with campus police.

When you know your rights, you will be in a better position to defend yourself in the event that you are under investigation, facing questioning or even placed under arrest while in college. Of course, it is not always easy to determine exactly what your rights may be, which is why it is beneficial to have legal guidance. With help, you can defend yourself and protect your long-term interests.

What you need to know about campus police 

Going off to college can be a time of growth and independence, but it can also be a time when a young student may make choices that he or she later comes to regret. There are probably police on your campus, but you may not be sure if they are "real" police or simply hired security guards.

The following information can help you deal with the authority figures on campus if you are ever in legal trouble: 

  • The campus police may not be official law enforcement, but they likely partner with the local police. Depending on the institution's policy, they also may have limited rights to search dorm rooms and question students.
  • If the campus police are questioning you, you have the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney, regardless of whether the officer is hired security or law enforcement. There may be administrative consequences for refusing to answer questions.
  • Your college or university's police probably allows security to search your dorm room if there is suspicion of criminal activity. However, you do have the right to privacy, and they likely cannot enter your room without probable caused to do so. 

One of the first actions of developing the right defense strategy will be to determine whether you experienced a violation of your personal rights in any way or if the law enforcement officers questioning you even had the authority to do so. You may want to start with an assessment of your case and explanation of the specific defense options available to you.

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