Police in Boston want parents to allow detectives to enter their children’s bedrooms without a warrant to look for guns. The new program, targeting high-crime areas and set to begin in a couple of weeks, is already raising questions in Massachusetts about civil liberties.
Police officers assigned to Boston area schools will go to the homes of teenagers they believe might be in possession of a firearm and ask the parents or legal guardian for consent to search the premise. If the parent or guardian refuses to grant permission, the police will leave the property.
Boston police claim that if a gun is discovered in the home, the teenager will not be charged with unlawful gun possession unless the weapon connected to a homicide or shooting.
The success of the program depends on the willingness of parents to participate. Police are hoping that parents, worried that their kids will get swept up in gun violence, will allow them to conduct the searches.
Critics of the program cited concerns that some parents and guardians will be too intimidated by the presence of police officers to refuse to agree to a search. Other critics commented on how the program conflicts with the US Constitution’s 4th Amendment, which forbids searches and seizures without a warrant. Still other expressed concerns that parents could unintentionally implicate: children if drugs or other illegal items were found in their bedrooms.
The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Unless police are in hot pursuit of a suspect, they must have probable cause and a search warrant to conduct a search leading to an arrest.
Police, however, say that they won’t go to the homes of juveniles they suspect of being involved in homicides or shootings. In these instances, they promise to obtain search warrants.
Boston police will rely on an anonymous hotline, tips from neighbors, and their own experience to decide which homes to approach.
The program targets juveniles under 18 years of age. Homes being targeted are located in Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods, including Egleston Square, Franklin Hill, Grove Hall, Geneva Avenue, Bowdoin Street, and Franklin Field. Police will use their own judgment on whether to make a drug arrest if drugs are founded.
Police to search for guns in homes, Boston.com, November 17, 2007
4th Amendment, Constitution of the United States of America
Related Web Resources:
Fighting Juvenile Gun Violence (PDF)
If your son or daughter was arrested anywhere in the Boston area or anywhere in Massachusetts, you should contact an experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer right away.
At Altman & Altman LLP, we can determine whether child’s constitutional rights were violated and provide an aggressive and strategic defense. Certain evidence in your child’s case may be inadmissible, which could lead to the charges being dropped or reduced. Contact Altman & Altman LLP and ask for your free consultation with one of our experienced Boston criminal defense lawyers about your juvenile’s crime case.