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Criminal charges dropped after UGA police conduct illegal search

| May 2, 2012 | Underage Drinking |

Sometimes Athens residents may make poor choices that could lead to serious mistakes with social or legal consequences. However, citizens also have a certain level of privacy that must be protected, even if their actions are not lawful.

Ensuring that one’s right to privacy has not been violated is especially important in instances when criminal charges have been filed. In some cases, these charges may be dismissed if police did not have probable cause to search a Georgia resident’s home or vehicle, or if police did not obtain a warrant before searching one’s property.

A couple of weeks ago, a University of Georgia student was arrested after police searched his dorm room and discovered that the student had marijuana and a fake ID. After investigating the circumstances of the student’s arrest and the search of his dorm room, it was determined that the search of the student’s room was unlawful and authorities dropped all criminal charges that had been filed against the student.

According to the Athens Red and Black, police had been called to the dorm after someone reported that the odor of marijuana had been detected in the building. Police claimed that they were able to detect which room the odor was coming from and they knocked on the door of the room to investigate the incident. When no one answered, police obtained a key for the room and opened the door.

Two students were found in the room. Both students agreed to let the officers search their room and one student admitted to owning the marijuana, drug paraphernalia and Fake ID that were discovered during the search.

After the student was arrested, police later realized that the search was unlawful. The officer who had opened the dorm room allegedly thought that he could search the residence without a warrant because the odor of marijuana had been detected. However, improper steps were taken to search the property. When this occurs, evidence obtained during an unlawful search is inadmissible in court. In this case, authorities decided to drop the charges against the student since no other evidence had been legally obtained.

Source: The Athens Red and Black, “Student’s charges of possession or marijuana and others dropped after police enter room without consent,” Megan Ernst, April 25, 2012