Maryland college students will soon be coming home for winter break. Many will be attending multiple parties and perhaps even throwing some. While some kids say, “It’s not a party unless the cops show up,” the reality can be frightening and have potentially serious consequences.
Even partygoers who are doing nothing worse than having a shot of whiskey can be arrested if they’re underage. If you’re hosting a party where there’s underage drinking (and perhaps worse) going on, you could be in legal jeopardy even if you aren’t involved in the illegal activity.
While you don’t anticipate the police showing up, all it takes is one grumpy neighbor to call the police about the noise for police to show up at the door. It’s essential to know your rights if that happens.
First, unless the police have a warrant, you don’t have to let them in, no matter how intimidating they are. That doesn’t mean you should slam the door in their faces. You can step outside with them, closing the door behind you. (The person opening the door to police should be one of the owners or renters who is over 21 and reasonably sober.) Everyone else should remain calm and quiet.
Remember that you don’t have to answer the officers’ questions. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, the less said, the better. If they continue to ask questions, you have the right to politely ask if you’re under arrest and, if not, if you’re free to go.
If the police have reason to believe illegal activity is going on, they may return with a warrant. You have the right to review the warrant before you let them in. It needs to have the date, the address and an officer’s and judge’s signatures.
Even if there’s a problem with the warrant, they may still insist on searching the house. It’s important to state politely but loudly enough that others can hear that you don’t consent to the search. However, don’t try to stop them. You’ll likely just make things worse.
An arrest for drug possession or even underage drinking can mar a kid’s winter vacation. However, beyond that, it can have consequences on his or her college education and even future employment prospects. That’s why it’s essential to seek legal guidance if your son or daughter gets into trouble over the holiday break.
Source: The Cooperpoint Journal, “Know Your Rights: What to Do When the Cops Come to Your Party,” Felix Chrome, accessed Nov. 27, 2017