Miami, FL asked in Civil Rights for Florida

Q: Hello, I’m wondering if the fourth amendment protects me as a student and which scenarios it does/doesn’t. Thanks.

I currently go to a public school so I would like to know how to applies to public schools (and possibly private if you would like to answer that as well).

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1 Lawyer Answer
Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Depends which part of the Fourth you mean. Certainly probable cause is required to charge anyone with a crime, whether adult or juvenile. Searching is another matter, though, because the school is "in loco parentis" (standing in the shoes of the parents) with regard to many aspects of student activity. I haven't researched that issue, but I bet there are probably plenty of scholarly articles, with references to court decisions, on the subject.

Regarding private schools, the Bill of Rights is inapplicable to school staff, because those Amendments prohibit/restrict particular types of GOVERNMENT action only. Of course, if there is a police officer on a private school campus, his/her conduct is restricted by the Fourth, as well as other Bill of Rights provisions. If a private entity hires off-duty, uniformed police officers to do security, and the officer "switches hats" to engage in a police function, the officer is subject to the Fourth.

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