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Combined Investigations By School Officials And Police Of Possible High School Drug Dealing Did Not Violate Miranda Or The Fourth Amendment

 

"The safest place in any Wisconsin community should be a public school," says Van Hollen.  "My office will actively support school officials and local law enforcement officers as they properly protect students from drug activity."

 

MADISON - This morning, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals concluded that Mequon police and Homestead High School officials properly searched Colin G. Schloegel's car for evidence of drug activity, and properly obtained statements from Schloegel.  The court affirmed Schloegel's Ozaukee County convictions on one count of possession with intent to deliver narcotics and one count of possession of marijuana.

 

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen praised today's decision:

"The safest place in any Wisconsin community should be a public school," said Van Hollen.  "My office will actively support school officials and local law enforcement officers as they properly protect students from drug activity."

 

Acting on information received by Homestead High School officials, Mequon police and the school officials requested and received permission from Schloegel to search his person, his book bag and his locker for contraband.  A later search of Schloegel's car revealed a container of marijuana, a pipe, OxyContin, and cash.  Schloegel made statements linking himself to the items found in his car.  In subsequent criminal proceedings, Schloegel argued that his statements were obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, and the drugs were seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

 

Adopting the State's arguments, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected both arguments.  The court concluded that because Schloegel was not in police custody at the time he made his statements, police were not required to give him Miranda warnings.  The investigation was conducted primarily by Homestead High School officials, not police, and Schloegel was not in police custody.  "Without custody," wrote the court, "there is no Miranda violation."

 

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals also concluded that the search of Schloegel's car did not violate the Fourth Amendment.  Citing United States Supreme Court precedent, the court concluded that the search was justified because school officials had obtained information regarding Schloegel's possible possession of contraband, and the search was reasonable in scope.

 

From the court's decision:

"Students who decide to bring drugs to school have many places to stash them, and the stated purpose and clear goal of this search was to discover whether Schloegel had contraband at school. A school official has the responsibility to keep students safe on school grounds, and as we have indicated, this includes school parking lots.  When searches of Schloegel's person, backpack and locker were cleared, it was a reasonable next step for school officials to take the search to Schloegel's car."

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals' decision in State of Wisconsin v. Colin G. Schloegel, No. 2008AP1310-CR, appears on the court's website:


http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=36455

 

The Ozaukee County District Attorney's Office represented the State of Wisconsin in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.  Assistant Attorney General Stephen Kleinmaier represented the State in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.