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Burglary Charges Dismissed on Unlawful Patrol in Dormitory

A recent Court of Appeals decision held that dormitory hallways have the same privacy protection as inside a home.

The case regarded an incident on a college campus in which campus police were investigating a dormitory burglary that occurred in February of 2006. A police officer stopped at a sixth floor door after hearing music and voices. The officer attempted to draw the students out of their room by covering the peephole, knocking, and saying “this is Matt.” He eventually identified himself as an officer, at which point a student named Jacob Houvener opened the door. Inside the room were a stolen laptop and guitar.

The Trial Court Judge dismissed the burglary charges against Houvener, stating that the students had a reasonable expectation of privacy. The sixth floor students constituted a group of residents that were independent from those of other floors. Frazier believed that Kuhrt overstepped his position by listening and sniffing at students’ doors. Frazier noted that students share a communal bathroom and study area and that public access is limited to residents and their guests.

The college rewrote its regulations after losing the case. The counsel involved in the case thinks that this attempt “to get around the Fourth Amendment is bizarre,” and warns that if colleges continue such patrols, they risk having significant criminal cases thrown out.

If you or a loved one believes your rights were violated in a criminal matter or need assistance from a California burglary defense attorney, call Wallin & Klarich. Wallin & Klarich has over 30 years experience with such cases and can give you the help you need. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-749-0034 and visit us at www.wklaw.com.

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