State Action

I go to a private college in PA. I was stopped by campus police and given a citation for having an open source of alcohol on campus. It is a dry campus. Will I have a criminal record? Also, assume for this question that the alcohol was in a brown paper bag, thereby making the stop illegal and the subsequent search and seizure of the booze illegal for purposes of this question. Can I get the observations and the booze suppressed?

I love a good state action question. I often get these questions and I love to hear about dry campuses. I went to college in the 1990s when you could drink on the lawn. I digress.

The college cops are not cops. They are security guards. There is no law governing the dry campus. The citation is an internal school thing because there is no state action so they can do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t violate your general civil liberties, like only ticketing women or asians, etc. Therefore, you will have no criminal record as a result of this, but you will have a school record.

As far as suppression goes, you can only get something suppressed in a criminal case if there is state action. Here suppression does not apply. Good Luck.

Just for fun, a quote:

Greg Marmalard: But Delta’s already on probation.
Dean Vernon Wormer: They are? Well, as of this moment, they’re on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!”

2 Comments on State Action

  1. I agree that there is no suppression issue because the school police officer seems not to be a ‘state actor’. However, school police officers have arrest powers on and near their campuses. The citation the questioner received may have nothing to do with an internal process – it may be a citation/summons to the local magistrate judge.

    If this is an official citation, it is not internal and the questioner should retain an attorney or go to the Public Defender office to qualify for representation immediately.

  2. Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire // at 2:40 am // Reply

    I think that a campus cop at a private school is different then that at a public school. If it is a private school, the officer would have to be a real police officer that is stationed at the school. For example, the University of Pennsylvania is a private school and the campus police are actual police officers and it says that on their uniforms.

    When I wrote the answer to the original question, I thought that the college referred to in the question actually had its own security and the people were NOT actual cops. Assuming my assumption was in fact correct, I would stick with my original answer.

    If it is a real citation, then go and fight with the defense that mere possession of alcohol is not illegal, so you committed no crime.

    If you are underage and it was in a car that you were driving, the defense would be for constructive possession, ie it isn’t my beer.

    Good Luck.

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