Police Search of Dorm Room

Q.        The cops showed up to my on campus dorm room while I was not there. My roommate called me and I came. They had already confiscated paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana from my roommate. I arrived and was told that the officer would stay in my room until a warrant was made, leaving me with no choice but to consent to the search. They found under 30 grams and a small digital scale in my top drawer and have charged me with possession and a paraphernalia charge. Do I have any defenses? I told them that it was left there by someone who my roommate had let in earlier that day and I didn’t know who it was. Could I possibly claim unwitting or fleeting possession?

A.        You should get an attorney, soon. I don’t know all the facts but if you want to fight it, you may have an illegal search defense. Again, an attorney would have to hear all the facts to assess whether there was a constitutional violation. The possible defense that the drugs did not belong to you even though they were found in your drawer, is a more difficult challenge. At this point you don’t even know what your roomate has said or will say. If you are a first time offender, you may get out of this without a record-that is good news. The bad news is, is that you may get booted off campus or from school altogether.