If your child is starting college this fall – particularly if they’ll be away from home for the first time – you’re no doubt worried about multiple things. We’re going to talk about your child’s legal rights if they find themselves dealing with law enforcement.
Even kids who’ve never so much as come in after their curfew can find themselves in trouble when they’re living with other students, meeting new people and trying to fit in.
Some kids think of campus police as the equivalent of security guards at the mall. That can get them in serious trouble. Every school is different. Some larger universities have actual police forces with all the authority that brings.
Others have contracted campus security personnel. While they might not be police officers, they have close ties with local law enforcement agencies. It’s never wise to treat them with less respect than you’d treat any law enforcement officer.
Don’t give up your constitutional rights
Of course, showing respect doesn’t mean that you give up your constitutional rights. It’s a good idea for all college students to know what rights they have if they’re detained, questioned and/or arrested. They need to know how and when to invoke those rights – like the right to remain silent and to have legal representation and to do so firmly but politely.
That Fourth Amendment protection against search and seizure is also an important one to understand. Generally, police can’t search even a dorm room in college-owned housing without a warrant. However, it’s important to know what the policy is at your child’s school.
Often, police get into these rooms simply because one of the occupants invites them in. Once they’re in, anything illegal they see, like drugs, can be grounds for arrest.
Iowa’s marijuana laws
If you live in a state where marijuana is legal for those 18 and over, you should know that it isn’t in Iowa. In fact, over half of all drug arrests in our state involve marijuana. If your student needs it for medicinal purposes, their best bet is to get an Iowa medical marijuana card and know the laws around it.
By knowing and obeying the law and being prepared to deal with law enforcement if necessary, your student is more likely to avoid having their college experience marred by legal issues. If they are facing drug-related or other criminal charges, it’s wise to seek legal guidance.