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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 89091
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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my 16 yr old daughter was taken in to the principals office

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my 16 yr old daughter was taken in to the principal's office where he closed the door, searched her, interrogated her, called her a liar before he suspended her and sent her to the board. First, is searching her, interrogating her behind closed doors without a witness or the opportunity to call her parents or have an attorney present while doing so LEGAL in the state of GA?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is Ely. Welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice; and (2) my function is to give you honest information and not necessarily to tell you what you wish to hear. Note: there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am sorry for your daughter's situation. Can you please tell me:

1) Was there a police officer present, or not, at the time of the search/interrogation?

2) Define "searched her," please? Was anything found?

3) What was she suspended for?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

1) no


2) searched - he took everything out of her bookbag and wallet and looked thru her phone


3) we will get to that - first we want to know is it legal to take a minor into the office without another person present and search and interrogate her?

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Thank you, K.

On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and I am afraid that this is one of these times.

"A school official stands in loco parentis to the student under his authority. In the performance of his duties he must be allowed reasonable bounds for the preservation of order and discipline." State v. Young, 216 SE 2d 586 - Ga: Supreme Court 1975. In other words, the school is acting "as the parent" while the child is in their care.

Although students are not stripped of their constitutional rights upon entering school, a student does not enjoy the same degree of privacy while on school property that he would enjoy elsewhere. A student's interest in privacy must be balanced against "the substantial interest of teachers and administrators in maintaining discipline in the classroom and on school grounds. Such discipline is necessary to provide students with a safe and secure school environment. Accordingly, the Fourth Amendment permits school officials to search students based upon circumstances which do not rise to the level of probable cause. The legality of a search of a student depends simply on the reasonableness, under all the circumstances, of the search. In Georgia, school officials may search "subject only to the most minimal restraints necessary to insure that students are not whimsically stripped of personal privacy and subjected to petty tyranny." Patman v. State, 537 SE 2d 118 - Ga: Court of Appeals 2000 (internal citations omitted).

First, is searching her, interrogating her behind closed doors without a witness or the opportunity to call her parents or have an attorney present while doing so LEGAL in the state of GA?

It is legal to interrogate/search without calling a parent, unless there is a police officer present, that which then makes it a criminal matter and minor/miranda rights become an issue.

However, the extent to which the student may be searched is subjective and is based on reasonableness, as explained above. So while the school may search/interrogate and the principal did not violate any rule here, the extent of the search (cell phone) may have been excessive. As such, this may be cause for relief - let me know if you need information on this.

I hope this helps and clarifies.

Surely, you prefer that I tell the truth rather than what you wish to hear. Because it reflects very poorly on me unless you press one of the top three faces, keep this in mind when rating my and please do not punish me for being honest. I understand that this may not be easy to hear, and I empathize.

IMPORTANT: Please use REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces before submitting the rating, because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects negatively on me as an expert, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Do not worry, you may always ask follow ups for free after rating. My ultimate goal is your complete satisfaction.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

she will have a court date and yes im interested in the cell phone

 

Is it right for an adult male to take a minor 16 yr old female child into a room and without a witness interrogate and search her?

 

also, she will have to go to court so that makes it a criminal matter. Does a police officer have to be present to make this a criminal matter?

 

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
K,

...and yes im interested in the cell phone...Is it right for an adult male to take a minor 16 yr old female child into a room and without a witness interrogate and search her?

(Both fall under the same question - excessive search.)

I hate to give you a "yes and no" answer, but, it is "yes and no." It is subjective, and is based on the following (as stated before):

Although students are not stripped of their constitutional rights upon entering school, a student does not enjoy the same degree of privacy while on school property that he would enjoy elsewhere. A student's interest in privacy must be balanced against "the substantial interest of teachers and administrators in maintaining discipline in the classroom and on school grounds. Such discipline is necessary to provide students with a safe and secure school environment. Accordingly, the Fourth Amendment permits school officials to search students based upon circumstances which do not rise to the level of probable cause. The legality of a search of a student depends simply on the reasonableness, under all the circumstances, of the search. In Georgia, school officials may search "subject only to the most minimal restraints necessary to insure that students are not whimsically stripped of personal privacy and subjected to petty tyranny." Patman v. State, 537 SE 2d 118 - Ga: Court of Appeals 2000 (internal citations omitted).

Now, one has the OPTION of making an issue out of the excessive search. If so, then one has two paths to doing so:

1) A formal complaint to the school district, who may investigate the matter and may admonish the principal; and/or
2) A lawsuit for invasion of privacy and an unconstitutional search in Court against the school. Let me know if you need information about either.

If you decide to sue, in the end, it would be up to a jury of your peers to decide if the search was excessive, which may be unpredictable.

also, she will have to go to court so that makes it a criminal matter. Does a police officer have to be present to make this a criminal matter?

Allow me to rephrase that. A minor who is being held in custody (either informally or under arrest) where there is a police officer present must have their parent contacted in most cases. But since a police officer was not present, this was not a "police" custody matter, and this does not apply.

IMPORTANT: Please use REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces before submitting the rating, because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects negatively on me as an expert, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Do not worry, you may always ask follow ups for free after rating. My ultimate goal is your complete satisfaction.
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 89091
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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