My Roommate Is On Probation, May Their Probation Officer Search My Room Without A Warrant?

by J.D. Garrett on May 18, 2013

Any person who is placed on supervised probation for a felony conviction in Virginia is subject to random searches by their probation officer or any law enforcement officer. As a condition of their probation, they must sign a waiver of their 4th Amendment Right guaranteeing the freedom from unreasonable searches without a warrant based on probable cause. Therefore, at anytime during the day or night, for as long as they are on supervised probation, they may be stopped by a police officer while walking down the street and searched for no particular reason; the probation officer may knock on their front door at midnight and demand entry to their home in order to search the premises. If the individual refuses to allow the search, they can be immediately taken into custody and charged with a violation of their probation.

Most people might think, why would I want to live with a convicted felon? Perhaps the roommate is a close friend or relative; maybe the felony conviction is based on something non-violent like the white collar crime of felony embezzlement for taking $201 from their employer one time, or a third conviction for DUI, or reckless driving that led to hitting a parked car resulting in more than $1000 of property damage (felony destruction of property).

Roommates living with a convicted felon who is on probation live in a world of gray, not black and white. While they are not on probation, their privacy is certainly affected by the possible random search of their residence and possibly their personal belongings. While they are still guaranteed their Constitutional Rights, the roommate must take additional steps to protect their privacy from the prying eye of the government.

Some helpful steps:

  • Ask your landlord to draft (or draft one and present it to him for approval) an addendum to you lease that states what area is your exclusive personal area, what area is your roommate’s exclusive area, and what areas are common areas.
  • Place a lock on your bedroom door where you and your landlord have the only key. Do not allow your roommate in your room, even when you are home.
  • Keep your personal belongings in your room, preferably in a lock box or safe.
  • Do not leave private personal items in the common area of the residence, for instance a purse, wallet, backpack, checkbook, or address book.

Of course the only solution to completely protect your privacy is to move or ask the roommate to move, but that’s not always feasible.

If you have any questions regarding these rights or any other Constitutional Right, please feel free to contact us online. (757) 422-4646. We will be happy to answer your questions.


J.D. Garrett is a criminal law attorney in the Virginia Beach office of Garrett Law Group, PLC. He has years of experience representing clients in the courts of Virginia Beach, Norfolk and surrounding areas.

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