Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
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I really shouldn't be addressing a thread that is long dead...but
I doubt that boats are not covered due to a loophole. Searches of cars are covered by the fourth amendment, as are houses and apartments and mobile homes. A boat can just as easily be a conveyance as it is a residence, and as either, it is protected from unreasonable search and seizure. Likewise, activities taking place within the confines of a boat are considered private. For instance, you can smoke in a no-smoking town or city limits within the confines of your own home...and you could do the same in the cabin of a boat.
Unless you give the police/LEO consent, they can board and search your vessel, but would have a hard time using it in court against you. The only area where this is probably not true is in the case of the coast guard and enforcing the legal equipment requirements, which they do have the right to do at any time. But I do not believe that the enforcement of legally required safety equipment allows the USCG to search your boat without your permission.
Also, be aware that submitting to a search and consenting to a search are different under the law. This came up with respect to the searches of NYC MTA riders. If you consent to a search, you effectively give up all of your fourth amendment protections, where if you submit to a search, but do not consent, you do not. The difference is huge. In the first case, they LEO can use anything and everything they find against you in a court of law.... in the second, they would have to prove that any evidence of illegal activity they find was legally obtained, and have a serious risk of having anything they find from the search being thrown out as the result of an unconstitutional search.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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