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Student drug charges dismissed after illegal search

A young person who is arrested on drug-related charges may feel as if he or she has no options. However, North Carolina police officers have a duty to follow specific procedure when investigating certain crimes. Young students who have never been arrested or convicted of a crime may be particularly scared in the event of a youth arrest, but it is important to remember that everyone has rights; even if they are being arrested.

Recently, a student at the University of Georgia was arrested when police officers discovered a small amount of marijuana, some drug-related objects and a fake ID in his dorm room. According to reports, officers received a complaint that a room smelled of marijuana. They went to investigate. Instead of waiting for the two students inside the room to leave the room, officers got a key from the RA and entered the room.

The students then consented to a search of their room, which is when police discovered the marijuana and paraphernalia. One of the students admitted that all of it was his and did not belong to his roommate. After he confirmed this, the young man was arrested and brought to jail.

Almost immediately after the arrest, the officer realized he had made a mistake by entering the dorm room first. Had he waited for the students to open the door, he could have executed a proper search. Because he had made this technical, but critical, error, anything that was discovered in the search would be dismissed in court.

The officers realized their mistake right away. Had they not, however, it is likely that a lawyer who understands search procedures would have been able to challenge the search, as well as anything it uncovered. Even though the young man admitted to having a small amount of marijuana, the charges against him were dropped because of the way the search was improperly executed. Situations like this are great reminders for why it can be very important to seek the help of an attorney.

Source: redandblackcom, "Student's charges of possession of marijuana and others dropped after police enter room without consent," Megan Ernst, April 25, 2012

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