The Instigator
futuresuccess
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
beem0r
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points

Search and seizure of lockers and backpacks

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/2/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,053 times Debate No: 3882
Debate Rounds (1)
Comments (9)
Votes (4)

 

futuresuccess

Con

Hello,
I am having a huge debate and i need some help on writing pro and con speaches concerningseach and seizures of students backpacks.
I am against seaching and seizures of backpacks and lockers, who gives others the right to search peoples personal belongings for no apperent reason? Amendment four of the constitution states that every United States Citizen, has their own privacy and no one can look through any of your personal belongings ( without a warent). I mean why should we make an acception? If someone has drugs, cigeretts, or a weapon in there school back pack, why must a teacher ook though some thing thats none of their buisness.It's the students life. They are only there to teach. further more, if people were aloud to go through peoples belongings, just because some other kid said there is something bad in their bag, that could ruin the childs life!!! kids lie!
beem0r

Pro

Searches and seizures of lockers and backpacks in a school are sometimes necessary.

There are various illegal things, such as weapons, drugs, alcohol, etc., that students can and sometimes do bring to school.
This can make the school environment less safe for not only the student who brings the illegal things to school, but for other students as well.

Here's Amendment 4:
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.

First, this brings me to one point: Law enforcement officers in a school cannot search a student's belongings without probable cause. However, if there is probable cause that a student has a weapon, drugs, etc. in his belongings illegally, then he should indeed be searched [after a warrant is obtained].

However, it is clear that this is not exactly what my opponent is talking about.
My opponent is referring to the ability of teachers to search a student's belongings.

The primary reason for this is 'in loco parentis.' This is a latin phrase meaning "In the place of the parent."
http://en.wikipedia.org...
American courts primarily apply the doctrine of in loco parentis to educational institutions.

Let's look at a court case where this very issue was being discussed:
New Jersey v. T. L. O. (1985)
In this ruling, the courts upheld that school officials do not need a warrant to search their student's stuff, they only need reasonable suspicion.

"The Court considered that T.L.O. had been accused of smoking, which had been corroborated by the other girl, and had denied the accusation. Therefore, her possession of any cigarettes was relevant to whether or not she was being truthful, and since she had been caught in the bathroom and taken directly to the office, it was reasonable to assume she had the cigarettes in her purse. Thus, the vice-principal had reasonable cause to suspect a school rule had been broken, and more than just a "hunch" to search the purse."
- http://en.wikipedia.org....

Teachers and other school officials are not 'just there to teach.' They are also entrusted with the task of upholding school rules. However rarely, this sometimes requires a search of a student's belongings.

And thus, I have argued in favor of search and seizure of lockers and backpacks.

Law enforcement should be able to search and seize if they have a warrant, school officials only need to have a reasonable suspicion [note: not just a hunch]. However, both parties should be able to do it. The 4th amendment only protects us from UNREASONABLE searches and seizures, and both of these cases are reasonable.
Debate Round No. 1
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by DemosthenesC 8 years ago
DemosthenesC
hmm i had though that in the situation of the roomates, the police were allowed to search the roomates room if the door was left open and they could see into it. But if it was closed they were not able to enter if the warrant didnt say they could?
Posted by Paradigm_Lost 8 years ago
Paradigm_Lost
No worries... :)

I've been in law enforcement for about four and half years now. I'm also a Criminal Justice major, though I haven't finished my degree, nor have I been back to school for it in a about three years.
Posted by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
Thanks again ;]

So are you just interested in law, or are you actually planning to have a career in it?
Posted by Paradigm_Lost 8 years ago
Paradigm_Lost
"So in an exigent search, would the officer be able to actually search the place[open cabinets, etc], or would he only be able to use things in plain sight as evidence against someone?"

Oh... no, that isn't what I meant. I guess the wording is kind of silly since its not really a typical search. In an exigent search, you aren't really searching for anything other than the person in distress, and possibly the cause of the distress. I just meant that this is one reason for entering a home on a warrantless search. So, no, you can't go through peoples belongings in a situation like that.

"Also, let's say 2 guys are roommates together. If the police get a warrant to search the house based on the actions of one of the guys, would they be able to search the the other guy's bedroom along with the rest of the house, or no?"

That's an awesome question. I would say that it really depends on what the judge signs off on. Just offhand, no they really shouldn't, not without some evidence that would suggest the roommate is aiding or abetting his roommate in some way, and thus would be obstructing justice.

Really, its one of those gray areas that the police would work feverishly to get around, but a good defense attorney would be all over that. The roommates are separate entities, each entitled to their own personal space and privacy. But the judge could request that the entire residence be searched. However, any knowledgeable judge would want all the details of the alleged crime and extenuating circumstances before he signs off on it, because its his a** on the line too. He could lose his position if he is not careful.

I suppose in the final analysis it would have to first be looked at on the federal level -- if its Constitutional. Then on the state level, then on county, then city, etc.

Obviously every state is somewhat sovereign. But one thing that cannot be usurped, legally, are our Constitutional rights. There is no state law that can trump it.
Posted by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
Thanks for the info.

So in an exigent search, would the officer be able to actually search the place[open cabinets, etc], or would he only be able to use things in plain sight as evidence against someone?

Also, let's say 2 guys are roommates together. If the police get a warrant to search the house based on the actions of one of the guys, would they be able to search the the other guy's bedroom along with the rest of the house, or no?

If ye know ;]
Posted by Paradigm_Lost 8 years ago
Paradigm_Lost
"It kind of seems at that point that a warrant is useless, since probable cause is enough to conduct a search without one, and probable cause is needed for a warrant.

So I guess the warrant is just to make sure that probable cause definitely exists, so that it can't be argued later?"

A warrant is really only necessary if you are planning to enter a home or establishment. Homes, in particular, have a reasonable expectation of privacy. So if one was going to enter a home, you would definitely need a search warrant. The way to obtain a search warrant is through probable cause.

There are slight differences with things like backpacks and cars. If you were a police officer and you watched a person pull out a gun, then place it back in their bag, you would then have probable cause to search the bag. In a car its similar. An officer can request to look in your trunk. You can deny them access if you so desire, and there is nothing they can do about it if they haven't probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Some people just willingly oblige because they aren't aware that they have rights to deny it. Its kind of messed up, but then, most people wouldn't turn it down unless they were hiding something.

But lets say they plainly see a shotgun sitting in your backseat. Well, that right there is a plain view discovery thus giving you probable cause to now search the whole car.

There are other ways to enter homes and such without a search warrant or probable cause of any kind. Such searches are referred to as an "exigent search." Under exigent circumstances, like a life in danger, an officer can enter a home without requesting permission.

Such an example might include a lady hanging out the window screaming for help. An officer can legally kick down the door since there is a reasonable expectation of imminent threat to life and limb.

Sorry... Kind of long and complicated, but its something that interests me.
Posted by SportsGuru 8 years ago
SportsGuru
@ futuresuccess

Assuming I am correct, you could use the fact that we do not gain our full constituitional rights until at least until we are 18 (aka out of high school) making the 4th amendment irrelevant.
Posted by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
Thanks.

I remember that from Law and Justice class, but I wasn't sure after reading Amendment 4. It kind of seems at that point that a warrant is useless, since probable cause is enough to conduct a search without one, and probable cause is needed for a warrant.

So I guess the warrant is just to make sure that probable cause definitely exists, so that it can't be argued later?
Posted by Paradigm_Lost 8 years ago
Paradigm_Lost
"Law enforcement officers in a school cannot search a student's belongings without probable cause. However, if there is probable cause that a student has a weapon, drugs, etc. in his belongings illegally, then he should indeed be searched [after a warrant is obtained]."

You don't need a warrant if you have probable cause to search a kids backpack. However, obtaining probable cause is not an easy thing to do, as hearsay does not legitimize the search.

Probable cause would constitute something like a plain view discovery of a weapon.

In either case, you won that debate. Good job!
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
futuresuccessbeem0rTied
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Vote Placed by DemosthenesC 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by futuresuccess 8 years ago
futuresuccess
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Vote Placed by beem0r 8 years ago
beem0r
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