Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Rating Badge
NACDL Badge
CBA Badge
CTLA Badge
ACBA Badge
Avvo Rating Badge
ABA Badge
Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Badge

Search of a College Dorm Room

I live in a dorm room and the college’s policy is that the police may search my dorm room since it is not technically mine, but I pay for it, do the police still require a search warrant according to the 4th amendment?

Parents may consent to their child’s room being searched, since the home is really the parent’s, not the child’s. An apartment, on the other hand, is technically the tenant’s during the period of the lease, and the landlord cannot consent to police searches on behalf of the tenant. Leases ordinarily provide that landlords can enter for a couple of limited purposes, such as to make repairs or show the place to future tenants, and the landlord must notify the tenant of the intent to enter for one of these purposes. Generally, there is a provision in the written lease covering this.

A university’s lease of a dorm room is more like the apartment situation‑that is unless the tenant signed a lease with a provision where the tenant expressly agrees that the university may consent to police searches. In that case, the tenant may be found to have given up their reasonable expectation of privacy in the leased dorm. Warrantless searches are generally found to be illegal when they violate one’s reasonable expectation of privacy. If the prosecuting attorney were trying to have such a search upheld in court (rather than having the seized items excluded from a trial’s evidence), the prosecutor would argue that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy. If the tenant actually signed a lease provision allowing the university to consent to dorm room searches, the State would have a strong case. If it’s merely ‘university policy’ to allow the police to search dorm rooms, the State’s case is much weaker, since the tenant is the leasehold owner with exclusive rights to occupy his/her home during the lease, and this carries a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
"Mr. Steinberg provided my family with expert handling of my son's case. He took extra time understand the case, to consult with us during the pretrial proceedings, and to support him for a plea agreement. Mr. Steinberg is very knowledge about the law and very professional. He guided us in achieving the best possible outcome for my son. If I am ever in need of law services again, I will certainly have Mr. Steinberg handle my case. l also highly recommend his services to anyone that might be in need of an excellent defense attorney!" Tanya Witt
★★★★★
"I found myself in criminal trouble, that I wasn't guilty of and thanks to Mr. Steinberg's dedication and hard work, right before we we're looking at having to continue on to trial level Mr. Steinberg was able to use his vast knowledge of the law and his many respected years in the system to find a way to show my innocence. After a very unsure and somewhat difficult time for me, this very skilled and knowledgeable attorney was able to find the right path to take to reach a dismissal in my case. For that I can't tell you how much I appreciate his representation and his excellent understanding and helpful personality. He's a great man and an even better attorney but don't misunderstand him, he is an attorney not a therapist. Thanks H." Josh
★★★★★
"Working with Michael Steinberg was a wonderful experience. Truly people need to know that he is a expert in what he does. His personality is compassionate, intellectual, and down to earth. I glean that Michael is fun to be around. In the time I worked with him, it was a pleasure to be around him. As for my case, the outcome was amazing and couldn’t be better. He has made my life more manageable because of the outcome of my case. I’ve worked with other lawyers in the Denver area. He is superior to them all. If you’re in need of a lawyer and you come across Mr. Steinberg look no further he’s going to be the one you need. Thank you again Michael." Renee Taylor