College students residing on campus may exercise their legal right to see a search warrant before allowing a law enforcement official to enter their dorm rooms. An officer generally may not search individuals or their private property without first presenting a warrant signed by a magistrate.
Chapter 18 of the Texas Criminal Code of Procedure requires sufficient facts showing how a student may have engaged in an illicit action. Before the magistrate issues a search warrant, an officer must sign an affidavit attesting the truthfulness of the facts presented. Without strong evidence of an individual performing a wrongful action, a magistrate may not have reason to issue a search warrant.
Digital or camera evidence may justify a search warrant
An officer may present a student’s emails, text messages or online postings as proof of an illicit action. Surveillance camera footage of an individual going in and out of a dorm room may also serve to justify an officer’s request.
Intercepted mobile device contents may provide timestamps that coincide with other evidence presented. While it may allow an officer to obtain a search warrant, the evidence alone may not conclusively prove an individual carried out an alleged crime. It may, however, help uncover additional information or other individuals involved.
University of Texas student withdraws from school after charges
A student living on campus faced several charges filed by the University of Texas Police Department after an anonymous report claimed he had burglarized several dorm rooms. According to The Daily Texan, the student posted online images of the items he took from other dorm residents.
Law enforcement officials may need to submit sufficient evidence to obtain a search warrant from a Texas magistrate. Electronic communications, online posts and footage from a surveillance camera may provide evidence of wrongful conduct.