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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.
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
by on Apr. 19, 2013 at 5:43 PM
Replies (21-30):
Carpy
by Platinum Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 7:49 PM

I just have to think under these exacting circumstances, It would not apply, I can see circumstances that it would but just not this one.

JakeandEmmasMom
by Gold Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 8:07 PM

 I would have no reason to refuse under these circumstances.

Erinelizz
by Bronze Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 8:22 PM
2 moms liked this
I think searching the nation would fall under "unreasonable". I think it would be more reasonable to search the area nearby where he was last seen. But again, I'm no lawyer.

Quoting kcangel63:

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?



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soonergirl980
by Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 9:10 PM
1 mom liked this


I wouldn't need to.

Quoting kcangel63:

Would you have the guts to say no?

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Analeigh2012
by Silver Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 9:10 PM
4 moms liked this
I would think knowing this "potentially armed and dangerous terrorist" was last seen in the neighborhood, no one would object to having their house searched. And there was notice they were going to go door to door. From early this morning the advisement was to remain locked in your house and only open the door for uniformed officers and if you doubted their identity to not open the door but call 9-1-1. Seems to me if anyone had illegal anything laying around, they would have hid it before the police got to their house. Myself - I would be relieved to have the police clear my house and would cooperate with a house search without question!
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soonergirl980
by Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 9:16 PM
1 mom liked this

Exactly. Especially since residents know and have plenty of time to hide their pot or whatever. It would make me wonder what you have going on in your house that you would not want them clearing. They just caught him because a concerned home owner from an already cleared home notice her boat had been messed with and asked them to come back. Why wouldn't you want that?


Quoting Analeigh2012:

I would think knowing this "potentially armed and dangerous terrorist" was last seen in the neighborhood, no one would object to having their house searched. And there was notice they were going to go door to door. From early this morning the advisement was to remain locked in your house and only open the door for uniformed officers and if you doubted their identity to not open the door but call 9-1-1. Seems to me if anyone had illegal anything laying around, they would have hid it before the police got to their house. Myself - I would be relieved to have the police clear my house and would cooperate with a house search without question!



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Well - the Boston PD & FBI caught their fish!  (liked your metaphor.)

I understand the points you are making - they make good sense. But I don't think that is accurate in a life and death situation like this. Otherwise, would never have captured 95% of our murderers. 

I wonder if the FBI can use different tactics - more like military ones? 

There has to be something else going on here.  Otherwise, the Mafia and the world-wide Al Qaida would have taken over DC by now.

Bethsunshine
by on Apr. 19, 2013 at 9:43 PM
2 moms liked this



Quoting Carpy:

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


Looking for a mad bomber seems pretty darn reasonable to me!!

Analeigh2012
by Silver Member on Apr. 19, 2013 at 9:58 PM
2 moms liked this
Watching the live coverage of the neighborhood after the suspect was removed by ambulance, the people were out of their houses lining the streets clapping and shouting words of thanks to the police and organizations packed up and drove away. Doesn't appear people were upset about the police being there searching.
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emeraldangel20
by on Apr. 19, 2013 at 10:09 PM

i'm going to have to agree.

Quoting LIMom1105:

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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