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Conway Criminal Law Blog

What are my rights to privacy in my dorm room?

Myrtle Beach and the surrounding communities are the home to many college, university and vocational students.

Many of these students live in dormitories or other student housing. They will likely think of these places as their home. They expect some level of privacy for both themselves and their stuff.

To some extent, this is true. The Fourth Amendment allows students to refuse law enforcement officials entry into their student housing unless the police have a warrant or some other established legal reason to enter.

However, things can get trickier when school officials want to search a student’s housing and belongings.

Depending on the school’s policies, the language of the student’s residential housing contract and other circumstances, school officials may have the ability to do searches that police themselves would not be able to do legally.

In a way, students sign away some of their privacy rights to school officials by living in student housing.

This is true even if the school has a policy of reporting all suspected criminal behavior to the appropriate authorities and then cooperating with law enforcement’s investigation.

However, it becomes a more complicated matter if school officials and police are working together more closely than that.

Criminal charges can come out of what school officials find in a student’s dorm room. These charges could range from alcohol violations to much more serious crimes related to theft or drug distribution.

In addition to jail, fines, and other penalties under South Carolina law, a criminal conviction can hurt a college student’s educational and professional opportunities.

Any South Carolina student facing a criminal case in the Horry County courts should take the matter seriously. They should evaluate their legal options carefully before making any decisions.

There may be legal defenses available to them. There may also be other options that can minimize the fallout from a criminal charge.