Washington, DC asked in Criminal Law, Education Law and Municipal Law for District of Columbia

Q: Can the University Police confiscate and not return items that are not illegal?

I am currently attending a private university in the District of Columbia. The Campus Police department confiscated my pocket knife citing "weapon's law violation" and are charging me, through the university's justice system, with that charge. My question is the Police Officer cited that "Knives are weapons and not allowed" the student code of conduct cites "weapons" as not being allowed. We are however allowed to have large scissors, kitchen knives, bats, etc that all could be considered "weapons." I wasn't using my knife as a weapon, it just happened to be in my pocket and I voluntarily alerted them to having it while they were searching me for an unrelated cause. The knife is not illegal per district law because it is has utility use, I use it while climbing and working, and is not a switchblade.

Can they keep it and not return it? Are there any cases that set precedence in this issue? If they don't return it could I file a theft report with the city's police department? Thanks!

1 Lawyer Answer
Robert Jason De Groot
Robert Jason De Groot
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Deltona, FL

A: Yes. That is the evidence to be used in the informal trial against you. I suggest that you hire an attorney for this. What does the student handbook say?

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