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Do students have legal rights?

Everyone in the state of Florida has rights, including underage high school students. While school staff members can search your locker, backpack and other personal items under certain conditions, they can’t strip search you or search your belongings whenever they want. If they break the law at any point, make sure you tell an attorney.

What are your rights as a student?

According to juvenile law, your school can search your locker or backpack if they have “reasonable suspicion” that you’ve done something illegal. However, they need to back up their suspicions with facts before they’re legally allowed to search your property. They can’t search your belongings just because they heard a rumor or thought you were acting suspiciously.

To reduce drug activity and other criminal behaviors, some schools utilize metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs and random searches. This is perfectly legal as long as the staff members don’t single out any particular students. If you suspect that you were specifically targeted, you may want to talk to a criminal defense attorney about your legal options.

You have the right to refuse to consent to a search at any time. The staff member or police officer might search you anyway, but if they conducted a search illegally, they can’t use the evidence that they found in court. It’s also illegal for anyone at school to strip search you regardless of the circumstances. Similarly, your school cannot make you take a drug test unless it’s a condition of participating in extracurricular activities, like sports.

Are you facing criminal charges?

The juvenile criminal justice system tends to operate differently from the adult criminal justice system. However, it’s still important to hire an attorney. Your attorney may assess the situation and figure out whether the police acted lawfully.

If teacher or police illegally searched your property or subjected you to a strip search, your attorney might argue that the evidence should be thrown out of the courtroom. The prosecutor might have to drop the charges altogether since they can’t pursue a case with illegally obtained evidence. However, your school still has the right to discipline you.