While college students are adults, many of them are young, inexperienced and unsure of how to protect their rights in the event that they find themselves in trouble with the law. If you are preparing to head off to college or you are under investigation for an on-campus incident, you will find it beneficial to learn more about your rights as a student. When you understand your rights, you can better protect yourself.
One important thing to understand is the role and authority of campus police at your school. These are men and women who are there to protect you and maintain order on campus. However, there is a point when their authority ends and your rights begin, and you will want to know where this line is.
Common questions about campus police
Like many other New York college students, you may not be certain about whether campus police are true law enforcement officers or what you should do if they try and stop you or question you. Some of the most common questions about campus police include the following:
- Are campus police really police officers? Some universities and college hire security guards. Others have their own police officers or collaborate with a local police department. You can usually tell by the way they dress.
- What can campus police do? Campus police can stop you, question you and even arrest you if there is probable cause. They have the same authority as off-campus police. Security guards cannot arrest or detain you.
- Do I have to cooperate? You do not have to answer questions from campus police or campus security guards. You have the right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer, but not cooperating may bring penalties from your school.
- Can they search my room? You have the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, campus police or security have the right search your on-campus dorm room if there is suspicion of specific types of wrongdoing.
If you are in trouble as a college student, there is a lot on the line. Your ability to stay on campus, retain your scholarships, keep your educational opportunities intact and more is at stake. It's in your interests to take your situation seriously and secure legal counsel as soon as possible, even if you are not facing official criminal charges. You have the right to confront any accusations against you and fight for your long-term interests.