New Jersey vs. T.L.O.
The Fourth Amendment states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized”. But, does this Amendment apply to students in the public school systems?
The officials at Piscataway High School in Middlesex County, New Jersey, didn’t believe that they were violating the Constitution when Mr. Theodore Choplick searched the purse of T.L.O. She had been caught in the bathroom smoking cigarettes with another girl. Upon searching her purse, Choplick found a package of cigarette rolling papers, a pipe, empty plastic bags, marijuana, a large sum of money, a list of those who owed her money, and letters implicating her in dealing the marijuana.
T.L.O.’s mother and the police were notified, T.L.O. was taken to the police station where she confessed to that she had, indeed, been selling drugs. This led to the State of New Jersey to file delinquency charges on T.L.O. in the Juvenile Domestic Relations Court of Middlesex County. T.L.O. requested that the evidence of her purse be suppressed, her reasoning being that the search was in direct violation of the Fourth Amendment. She also requested that her confession be suppressed because it was given in light of what was found in the purse, and if the purse had not been searched, no confession would have been given. The court rejected her arguments, but conceded that the Fourth Amendment applies to searches by school officials. However, they did stay firm on the fact that a school official may search a students' belongings if the official has a “reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is in the process of being committed or reasonable cause to believe that the search is necessary to maintain school...
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