Anonymous Telephone Tip About A Student’s Possession Of Drugs Case

Mr.  Ross, the high school assistant principal, received an anonymous telephone tip that JD, a senior, would be “carrying alot of drugs on him that day at school, including LSD.”  Teachers has previously expressed concern to Ross that JD was distributing drugs at school.  Recently, JD’s mother told Ross that he had been arrested for drugs in another state.   Ross requested JD come to his office, where he was asked to empty his pockets, which contained  a wallet, a package of cigarettes, a pipe and some rolling papers.  Ross saw what appeared to be a small amount of marijuana on the rolling paper package so he asked JD to open his back pack.  The back pack contained several bags of marijuana so Ross called the School Resource Officer who took JD into custody and continued the search.  In the backpack the officer found an unloaded semi-automatic pistol.  A later search discovered two baggies in JD’s sock containing 121 hits of LSD.  JD was charged with possession of both drugs and weapons and found guilty on each counts.  The two Juvenile Court convictions were upheld by the appellate court.hands1.thm

The court ruled the anonymous telephone call provided legally sufficient facts  to  justify detaining and searching JD.  The information about the  drugs was specific, so it added up to “reasonable suspicion” to justify the detention and search.  The initial search revealed a pipe and what appeared to be a small amount of marijuana on the rolling paper package.  At this point, expanding the search to the back pack was legally reasonable.  It was not a “witch hunt” because the officer had facts to justify the detention and search in the first place.  The fact the officer found the gun in JD;s back pack  did not make the scope of the search legally unreasonable, so JD’s privacy rights were not violated.  Because he was stopped for suspicion of drugs and they also found a pistol in his possession did not make the search unlawful under the 4th Amendment.     This search was not based on hunches, guesses or speculation but based on facts contained in the tip.  This means  both the drugs and the pistil found in JD’s back pack could be used in court as evidence to prosecute him for the two violations of the law.

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