Warrantless Entry in Penn State Dorm

The police responded to a report of a criminal trespass in a Penn State dormitory when female residents found a drunk male in their dorm room. An officer questioned the male about why he was trespassing in a female dorm room, and the male was so drunk that he thought that he was in his own dormitory room. After the officer informed the male that he was in a female dorm, he informed the officer that he was a guest of a female that resided in the dorm, but the male didn’t even know the room number of his female host. The officer talked to the RA, discovered the room number of the alleged host, and took the intoxicated male to her room. The officer and male entered the room without obtaining consent or a warrant. The officer woke the occupant of the room, noticed signs of intoxication like the odor of alcohol on the breath and slurred speech. The officer then gave the female a summary citation of Underage Drinking under 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308.

The female hired experienced State College Underage Drinking attorney Jason S. Dunkle. At the summary trial, Attorney Dunkle sought suppression of all evidence found as a result of the warrantless police entry into the Penn State dorm room. Before an officer can enter into a residence or dorm room, even if the door is unlocked, the officer must first obtain a warrant. In this case, Attorney Dunkle argued that all evidence must be suppressed because the officer did not obtain a warrant, and no exceptions to the warrant requirement were applicable.

The State College judge agreed with the defense attorney’s argument and suppressed all evidence that had been obtained in violation of the client’s 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Because all evidence was suppressed, the judge found the client not guilty. An expungement petition was filed on behalf of the client to have the Penn State underage drinking charge removed from client’s criminal history.