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Old 01-18-2008, 11:44 AM
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Default Environmental police search and seizure

here's a question for the lawyers out there...

What are the laws, etc. regarding searching a boat with out probable cause? (I'm making the assumption that being on the water does not constitute probable cause that you violated a law). This would be in relation to searching a vessel for illegal fish or life jacket check with out permission of boat owner or without probable cause. I didn't see anything on the boat registration that by signing gives up my constitutional protections.

I don't believe the police can just show up at your house or car without a search warrant and go looking around hoping to find a law being broke without probable cause. I believe this goes back to constitutional bill of rights.

The marine police seem to have a different set of rules to operate by. I looked around on the net but didn't see anything.

Any clarification out there.
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Old 01-18-2008, 12:00 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

Not a lawyer....But I think they have the right to search for fish/lobster etc. without a warrant or court order simply because it is evidence that is SO easy to get rid of quickly.

I got boarded 7 miles east of the MR by the Mass Env. Police while trolling for tuna. Are they not outside their juristiction ??? They were quick and polite so no big deal and I wasn't going to argue.
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Old 01-18-2008, 12:20 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

So long as the spot checks don't target or discriminate against any particular group, I believe they are legal. That is why police can conduct "safety" checks on every vehicle along a certain road. The 4th amendment right to privacy is weaker when you are on the public roads or waters as opposed to in your home or on your property. I think that these types of checks are clearly conducted to produce revenue (fines) for the jurisdictions where these polce work. I remember several years ago, a very wealthy town in Westchester County, NY constantly conducted "safety" checks on every vehicle passing through its sliver of roadway between one town and another. Turns out, the town had a huge deficit and instead of raising taxes on its citizens, it decided to "tax" car owners who might have forgotten to put their seatbelt on. Oh yeah, the judge was also elected by the town's citizens, so he also wanted make them happy by having other people pay their taxes. What a joke.
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Old 01-18-2008, 12:34 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

I know in MA the "Environmental Police" here that you mention have the right to search anything on both land and sea with no warrant necessary, they are the "top of the food chain" so to speak with the rights to do that. I know that on the water, they have the right to board and search all they want, it happened to me twice this past fall, once on the water and once at the dock. First they want to see the boats registration then they make sure you have all your safety gear, then they wanted to see my fish, in that order each and every time. If you bother to read the handbooks/manuals that either the EPO's put out or the Coast Guard, you will see that they do have the right to board or search for any reason at all, this much I do know and have read it.

I don't mind being searched or boarded. I know they do it for my safety, I know I've got everything I need to make them happy, and I know that if I ever need to call any of those guys, they will come as fast as they can, it is both the beauty and the bane of their existence. The time it takes is/was the most minor inconvenience for me. The faster you can show them your lifejackets, if you are not wearing them, your unexpired flares, your throwable PFD, the sooner everyone gets on their way.
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Old 01-18-2008, 01:10 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

On the water they can stop and board your boat without your permission to check for compliance of state and federal laws.
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Old 01-18-2008, 01:15 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

I have found the best way to avoid being stopped is having my PFDs in stored overhead in the compartment on my top where they can clearly see them from a mile away. In my old boat without a top I was stopped and asked to see PFDs atleast 1 or 2 times a season. This year, I wasn't stopped once. Maybe its just luck but who knows.
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Old 01-18-2008, 01:34 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

Being proactive, by getting a voluntary safety inspection issued by the USPS or USCGAux, and displaying its approval sticker, often dissaudes local LE from performing an inspection. Even if they do the inspection it usually is more cursory.




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Old 01-18-2008, 01:47 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

There was an extensive thread on here somewhere a while ago about this issue. As I recall the eventual semi-consensus was that the USCG has specific authorization to stop and search vessels without probable cause or a warrant, but that state authorities maybe did not.

EDIT:

here's the thread
http://www.thehulltruth.com/forums/t...ighlightmode=2

Page 4 is roughly the start of the discussion...heh...I had forgotten that I actually started mixing it up in this thread....that starts around page 5 or 6
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Old 01-18-2008, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

I know in Maine the Warden service can no longer tell you to produce a license even if your are fishing in the middle of stream unless they set up a check point and check everyone or have probable cause. Even the state troopers at an OUI check point can't go through your vehicle unless they have cause or a warrant. It is considered equivalent to police officer picking out certain cars off the highway and then conducting a search of that vehicle. I do know my recreational lobster license says that I either consent to a search for enforcement of lobster laws or lose the lobster license. To me that implies they are shaky ground with these searches since they go to the trouble of explicitly making a point of it.

It has never been an issue just a point of contention when the people paid to enforce the laws feel they can break them to enforce them.
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Old 01-18-2008, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

I think you have the laws mixed up, the rules on land are not the same as on the water. When i'm out on the water there could be hundreds of boats fishing the same area, it would be impossible to check everyone. If the poachers knew they were'nt going to be stopped what would stop them from poaching? If your not doing anything illegal what are you worried about? If I was an enforcement officer and you gave me a hard time about checking your boat I would stop you every time I saw you.
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Old 01-18-2008, 08:03 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

I type verbatim from the Massachusetts Environmental Police "Boat Massachusetts" Your Guide To Boating Laws and Responsibilities, 2006 edition;

"Officers have the authority to stop and board any recreational vessel at any time to check equipment, registration, and positively identify the vessel operator."

Next bullet;

"It is illegal to refuse to follow the directive of a person with law enforcement authority. An operator who has received a visual or audible signal from a law enforcement officer must bring his or her vessel to a stop."

Finally;

"Officers may arrest, without warrant, anyone in violation, or believed to be in violation of, the boating laws in Massachusetts."

Thank goodness I can type fast. I'm sure this helps. Great guide to have and read through, we will have an exam on Tuesday.
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Old 01-19-2008, 03:41 AM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

Laws are different on the water than as land as stated above.
I often get stopped at the mouth of the Thames River (there is a Coast Guard station and sub base). Just be nice and have all safety equipment in place and accessable. Also.... dont drink.
My friend calls it a "Bikini Check" becaus he always gets pulled over by a boat load of coasti's when he a few girls on board.
Tim
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:50 AM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

In NJ they still need probable cause.
The Marine Police have shore-to-shore jurisdiction on the Delaware: they may board any watercraft while it is operating in the river if they can identify probable cause for a violation. Those findings may vary from a faulty navigation light to going too fast in a no-wake zone.
This is an example of operation on the DE River flowing between NJ and PA.
Cops don't have to look to hard for probable cause; but if you are clean tell them permission denied. Good luck
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Old 01-19-2008, 03:31 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

I know a guy who got stopped on the water by coasties in a dinghy, he was drinking beer, he lost his licence on land.
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Old 01-19-2008, 07:53 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

If you are fishing you can be stopped boarded and searched. Fishing is not a right but a privledge. When You fish the law says in exchange for that privledge you can be searched. Now if you are not fishing,and your boat is legal it becomes a grayer area but officers will continue to stop and search until the courts clearly start ruling against them.
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Old 01-19-2008, 10:52 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

I've not been boarded by local law enforcement, but have been boarded several times by the coasties in both State and Federal waters. I had one bad experience this spring where they boarded me in very in questionable seas and in hindsight as the person responsible for the safety of those on my boat, I should have refused boarding. I asked several times after they couldn't get in close enough to get aboard in heavy seas if they really thought this was a good idea and they insisted on boarding.

I contacted the CG after the incident to find out what I could have done, might rights per-se, like I could have refused the baording. They were very clear that I could not refuse it, but I could defer the baording until we both reached safe harbor. They were pretty clear that there are steep penaties for refusing, and in the end they will baord anyhow.

You could fight it, constitutionally I suppose, but I don't think you would want to deal with the fallout from taking a stand. Other than a few minutes of lost time, it's just not worth the fight, unless you have something to hide.

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Old 01-20-2008, 12:02 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

USCG can board you anytime anyplace. NJSP need probable cause. Period. It is not about what you may or may not have to hide; it is about your rights. IMHO the cops need to get their probable cause or piss-off until they get a reason. By the way I have denied the NJSP twice and have never received citation. Don't ever give up your rights to gun and a badge.
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Old 01-20-2008, 12:44 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

Not only do the have all the rights as delineated by Thundra above, they have full access to all other state enforcement data bases held by the local and state police - if there is a restraining order they know it, if there is an outstanding warrant they have access to that information as well. Welcome to the information age.

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Old 01-20-2008, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

Quote:
CB Haws - 1/20/2008 12:02 PM
Don't ever give up your rights to gun and a badge.
That's a pretty sweeping position. I guess if you take the attitude that these guys are your sworn enemy and out to do nothing but malice then sure, grab a gun and fight them off. But their main purpose is assuring safety. I known dozens of people who have been boarded by both federal and local and know not of a single citation, and as a matter of fact they point out things that are a possible safety issue you should address.

There are a lot of constitutional battles to worry about in life and this is just not one IMO that represents the collapse of constitution. Yeah you can argue slippery slope but be real. If there is some grand conspiracy to erode our rights through abusive law enforcement, targeting the tiny population of boaters to launch your campaign is a poor plan.

So if you are one of those people who wants to spend their life screaming bloody murder at every corner that's your call. I have better things to do with my time.

And BTW, for probable cause, all they need to do is see someone on board without a life jacket ON to have cause to board and check for safety equipment. So the probable cause thing is a technicality that if you get into a pissing match over you usually lose.

And if EVERYONE starts refusing boardings you can be damn sure the laws will change huge way making sure they can board.

M

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Old 01-20-2008, 06:27 PM
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Default Re: Environmental police search and seizure

wow you must of had some very nice enforcement officers. I have felt intruded upon every time i have encounterd an enviromental officer. THey usaully go above and beyond there call of duty.
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