1. Could me or my parents legally have refused this search?2. Can i file a lawsuit for confidentiality breaching?

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1. Could me or my parents legally have refused this search?2. Can i file a lawsuit for confidentiality breaching?

someone tipped off my priciple that i had marijuana on me. i was called down and told to empty my backpack. i refused and called my parents. the principle told them that the search will take place no matter what they do. they came down and i was busted with 2.5 grams. they promised many times that this would be confidential since im a minor (16.) the next day my girlfriends mother heard kids talking about it on the bus. she pulled into a gas station where there was some cops. she said my name and said her daugher was dating me. they confirmed the story and said to not let her see me anymore.

Asked on May 14, 2009 under Criminal Law, New Jersey


Martin Matlaga / Martin D. Matlaga, Esq., LLC

Answered 14 years ago | Contributor

In New Jersey, a school official may search a student without obtaining a search warrant if he has

a reasonable basis to believe that the student has violated the law or school rules. By way of

example, information from a reliable informant that a student had drugs gave a vice principal a

reasonable basis to search that student. The question will be whether the individual who "tipped

off" your principal is a reliable informant. As to the civil lawsuit for breach of confidentiality, many

more facts are needed. However, you should know that you have 90 days to file a "notice of claim"

when you bring a lawsuit against a governmental agency. Call me at (732)932-7226 (office) or

(732)710-0004 (cell).

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 14 years ago | Contributor

Kids talk.  So unless you can prove who said what to whom, not sure if you have a case.

So you are mad you got caught ????? You had the marijuana.  Are you trying to get out of it on a technicality? How did they find it if you refused and called your parents? Did they take the backpack from you?

Check out below: Can a school official search a student's locker?

While the U.S. Constitution upholds the right to be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures, the standard for school searches is less rigid. The search is lawful if the school has a "reasonable suspicion" that a school rule has been violated. This means the search must be justified when made and reasonably related to the circumstances being investigated. For example, a student is believed to have been smoking on campus, but denies it. A reasonable search can be made of the purse or backpack he or she was carrying at the time of the incident. His or her locker and pockets can also be legally searched. Courts will weigh a student's right to privacy against a school's need to obtain evidence of school rule violations and violations of the law. This "reasonable suspicion" standard has been upheld in challenges to locker, desk, and car searches.


2.  Can school officials, teachers, or counselors search my belongings or me?

Search and seizure laws applicable to the police are generally not applicable to school officials, teachers, and counselors. Lockers, personal items, pockets, cars, and so forth could be subject to search. Just as with the police, do not consent to the search. You cannot physically resist but you can say, "I do not consent."

So the question falls on what your state considers in light of its case law.  New Jersey v. TLO seems to say no, one's belonging cannot be searched but you will need to speak to a criminal defense attorney in your state to determine if it should be suppressed because your 4th amendment constitutional rights were violated. 

Try www.attorneypages.com.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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