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News & Politics News & Politics

Warrantless Searches In Boston?

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http://myfreedomfoundation.com/blog/liberty-live/detail/can-the-police-search-my-home-for-a-bomber

Can the Police Search My Home for a Bomber?

Today in Watertown, Massachusetts, law enforcement officials are going from house to house with trained SWAT team snipers drawing a bead on any occupants and instructing those occupants to exit the houses so the police can enter and search the premises.

Is this constitutional?

No.

Contrary to this article posted on Slate.com, constitutional rights do not evaporate whenever the government decides they would be inconvenient. Police have no right to expel citizens from their homes or to engage in warrantless searches of those homes just because the government declares that an emergency exists.

The Fourth Amendment makes clear that people have a right for their persons and homes to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, and that judges must not issue warrants permitting the government to intrude upon someone's home unless there is a clear reason to believe that a specific thing or person will be found in a specific, identified location. The Washington Constitution is even more protective of citizens' rights, stating that "no person shall be disturbed in his private affairs, or his home invaded, without authority of law."

Courts have, by-and-large, allowed certain exceptions to these constitutional rules, such as if the police see a potential criminal enter someone's property and there is no time to obtain the warrant that would otherwise be necessary to follow the suspect. This is known as the "hot pursuit" doctrine. Courts also usually recognize an exception if police believe that intruding on a citizen's property is necessary to assist someone threatened with immediate harm or injury.

But these exceptions do not apply to the circumstances in Watertown. The police do not know where the suspected criminal is, and they have no reason to believe that he is in any specific house in Watertown. Neither do they have any reason to believe that any specific citizen of Watertown is in immediate danger of harm or injury. And, importantly, they also have no reason to believe that any specific citizen is harboring the suspect in their home.

Thus, this entire operation is one gigantic fishing expedition - and that is precisely the sort of thing forbidden by the Fourth Amendment and Article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution.

The police can warn people to be on the lookout for the suspect. They can ask for permission to search a citizen's home. But unless they have clear reason to believe that the suspect is on a specific property and that he might escape in the time necessary to obtain a warrant, the police cannot constitutionally force citizens out of their homes or engage in a warrantless search of those homes.

I can hear some people now saying, "But surely these are special circumstances..."

They are not, and it is extremely dangerous for the very idea of constitutional liberty to presume that citizens may be stripped of their rights whenever the government declares it necessary. History teaches us that one exception breeds another, and that pattern will continue until the exceptions destroy the rule. Once the principles of liberty have been sacrificed, it is exceptionally difficult for them to be recovered. We must remain vigilant and steadfast in our protection of our rights, and we must not allow fear to lead us to abandon those rights.
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by on Apr. 19, 2013 at 5:43 PM
Replies (11-20):
LIMom1105
by on Apr. 19, 2013 at 6:51 PM
2 moms liked this
So you are okay with more explosions potentially and this guy fleeing for Mexico?

Given the importance of the moment, no I don't find this unreasonable even if it's unConstitutional.
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Erinelizz
by Bronze Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:17 PM
6 moms liked this
Since I'm very unfamiliar with the exceptions to the law, i had to look it up.

"Exigent Circumstances. This exception refers to emergency situations where the process of getting a valid search warrant could compromise public safety or could lead to a loss of evidence. This encompasses instances of "hot pursuit" in which a suspect is about to escape. "

Another site worded it like this:
"Necessary - If the police have a reasonable belief that their immediate action in searching your home is necessary to prevent a harm to a person or property, then the police are free to search your home."

I'm no lawyer, but it sounds like this situation may fall under these exceptions.


Quoting JoshRachelsMAMA:

I thought of this. I hope it's brought up.



There are other circumstances which fall under other emergency exceptions, not just hot pursuit. The writer does not know what the police know. Nor are the police obligated to tell the public what they know.



Quoting Erinelizz:I was thinking the same thing. Are people saying no to the searches but are being searched anyway? Or are people happy to help?



Quoting soonergirl980:I haven't seen anyone complain about being forced to have their homes searched. People are allowed to let their homes be searched. If it were me I would welcome them in and offer them something to drink.

Quoting kcangel63:It's unconstitutional. This just shows how screwed we would be if this was an organized group.



For now, we can cry "The Fed Coats Are Coming".



Quoting soonergirl980:ok?

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Carpy
by Platinum Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:19 PM
3 moms liked this

The Fourth Amendment makes clear that people have a right for their persons and homes to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures

Carpy
by Platinum Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:21 PM
1 mom liked this

They can legally enter without a warrant, but lets say they go in and you have a big bong and a bag of weed sitting on the table.  they can not arrest you for it, nor can they obtain a warrant to come back.

JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:23 PM
Yes they can. It's called the plain view doctrine.

Quoting Carpy:

They can legally enter without a warrant, but lets say they go in and you have a big bong and a bag of weed sitting on the table.  they can not arrest you for it, nor can they obtain a warrant to come back.

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Carpy
by Platinum Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:33 PM

I don't think it would apply in that case.  Because it violates the reasonable expectation of privacy.

Read Washington v Chrisman

Quoting JoshRachelsMAMA:

Yes they can. It's called the plain view doctrine.

Quoting Carpy:

They can legally enter without a warrant, but lets say they go in and you have a big bong and a bag of weed sitting on the table.  they can not arrest you for it, nor can they obtain a warrant to come back.


kcangel63
by Amanda on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:42 PM
So, technically, they could do a nationwide search. Or would this just be their local laws?

If its a national law, they could say he could be anywhere and just put the country under martial law and do a nationwide search.


Quoting Erinelizz:

Since I'm very unfamiliar with the exceptions to the law, i had to look it up.



"Exigent Circumstances. This exception refers to emergency situations where the process of getting a valid search warrant could compromise public safety or could lead to a loss of evidence. This encompasses instances of "hot pursuit" in which a suspect is about to escape. "



Another site worded it like this:

"Necessary - If the police have a reasonable belief that their immediate action in searching your home is necessary to prevent a harm to a person or property, then the police are free to search your home."



I'm no lawyer, but it sounds like this situation may fall under these exceptions.




Quoting JoshRachelsMAMA:

I thought of this. I hope it's brought up.





There are other circumstances which fall under other emergency exceptions, not just hot pursuit. The writer does not know what the police know. Nor are the police obligated to tell the public what they know.





Quoting Erinelizz:I was thinking the same thing. Are people saying no to the searches but are being searched anyway? Or are people happy to help?





Quoting soonergirl980:I haven't seen anyone complain about being forced to have their homes searched. People are allowed to let their homes be searched. If it were me I would welcome them in and offer them something to drink.


Quoting kcangel63:It's unconstitutional. This just shows how screwed we would be if this was an organized group.





For now, we can cry "The Fed Coats Are Coming".





Quoting soonergirl980:ok?


Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:44 PM
It would apply. They are legally in the house and inadvertently see something illegal. I have gone to trial on a few cases in similar circumstances. (Not involving a terrorist of course) but under exigent circumstances.

Quoting Carpy:

I don't think it would apply in that case.  Because it violates the reasonable expectation of privacy.

Read Washington v Chrisman

Quoting JoshRachelsMAMA:

Yes they can. It's called the plain view doctrine.



Quoting Carpy:

They can legally enter without a warrant, but lets say they go in and you have a big bong and a bag of weed sitting on the table.  they can not arrest you for it, nor can they obtain a warrant to come back.


Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
JoshRachelsMAMA
by JRM on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:46 PM
They couldn't use hot pursuit doctrine because that involves searches within a reasonable amount of time since the onset of the pursuit. Courts have rules that thirty minutes is reasonable,and even up to an hour.
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Carpy
by Platinum Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:47 PM
1 mom liked this

I think I would fight it pretty hard.  But with what is going on otherwise, I doubt they would be interested.

Quoting JoshRachelsMAMA:

It would apply. They are legally in the house and inadvertently see something illegal. I have gone to trial on a few cases in similar circumstances. (Not involving a terrorist of course) but under exigent circumstances.

Quoting Carpy:

I don't think it would apply in that case.  Because it violates the reasonable expectation of privacy.

Read Washington v Chrisman

Quoting JoshRachelsMAMA:

Yes they can. It's called the plain view doctrine.



Quoting Carpy:

They can legally enter without a warrant, but lets say they go in and you have a big bong and a bag of weed sitting on the table.  they can not arrest you for it, nor can they obtain a warrant to come back.



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