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"Maybe if we ignore them, they'll just go away"

New Hampshire police have been cracking down lately on teenage drinking parties. I don't recall any recent deaths, so it's nice to see that it doesn't always take a tragedy to prompt such action. A couple of parents are facing trial for hosting such parties (the standard defense seems to be "they're going to do it anyway, so at least this way I can make sure nothing bad happens"), for example.

More often, though, the kids simply hold the parties without any adult supervision. Sometimes they rent an American Legion hall. That's the exception, though. More often it's a home owned by one of the kid's parents, like this incident in Laconia.

The story reads like a sitcom. A bad one. The cops arrive, and the kid whose folks own the place is outside. She quickly locks the door and refuses the cops permission to enter. She insists there's nobody there, despite the cars parked around the house and the cops being able to see and hear kids inside.

I have to give the cops credit -- they actually didn't just force their way in. They knocked and called into the house. They phoned the house. They even ran the plates of the cars in the yard, contacting the registered owners and tried to get their help. In the end, though, they did get a search warrant and broke into the house. Seven teenagers, including the girl whose parents own the home and who stood on the porch and refused the cops, ended up arrested.

Those cops showed a hell of a lot more patience than I would have.

(Update: link to story corrected. Doh! My apologies, and thanks to the readers who pointed it out.)

Comments (17)

I haven't read the linked a... (Below threshold)

I haven't read the linked article.

My first thought: Is a gathering of teenagers in and of itself probable cause, and justification for a warrant?

My second thought: Local control is more important that ridiculous levels of fourth amendment court oversight. If the police get out of hand, it can be dealt with by the NH legislative and court system.

Good on them.

Same link for both there, J... (Below threshold)

Same link for both there, Jay.

A classmate of mine recentl... (Below threshold)

A classmate of mine recently died in a car crash because he was driving home drunk from one of those parent-thrown parties. Yeah, they really save lives, those parents.

Parents who provide alcohol to their underage kids have no excuse, not even the "they'll do it anyway" excuse. Maybe if they stepped up to the plate a little and kept their eyes on their kids and raised them right, the kids wouldn't be "drinking anyway".

SilverBubble said:... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:

SilverBubble said:

"Maybe if they stepped up to the plate a little and kept their eyes on their kids and raised them right, the kids wouldn't be "drinking anyway"."

Oh really? Do you have kids?

I think the police have ple... (Below threshold)

I think the police have plenty of better things to be doing than busting underage drinking parties, which typically don't hurt anyone, and only serves the neo-prohibitionist cause. How about, like, preventing and/or solving the myriad of property crimes that affect our cities?

If someone wants to drink, so long as they're not driving, regardless of their age I don't care. It doesn't hurt me. Burglary and car theft do hurt me. Government is supposed to protect people from the predations of others, not from themselves.

Is it true that parents who... (Below threshold)

Is it true that parents who are away and don't have any control over the situation to begin with could face prosecution anyway since it was still their house?

I have kids, Starboard. Be... (Below threshold)

I have kids, Starboard. Better yet, I used to be one. ;-)

I *do* have a libertarian attitude toward the drinking age, but all this really means is that I blame the parents even more. And while I'd let any of my kids have whatever my husband and I were drinking (which isn't often alcoholic, and they generally say "ick"), I have quite a different attitude when it comes to a kid's party where alcohol will be served. I have quite a different attitude about drinking as recreation *at all*.

It seems to me that parents can make grievous mistakes which seem to be at opposite sides but are actually exactly the same. Both of them amount to "kids will do it anyway." The enabling parent says, "they'll do it anyway, so I'm going to help" and the supressive parent says, "they'll do it anyway so I have to lock them up."

The first thing any parent has to do is respect their child enough to believe that they *can* demonstrate responsible behavior and then they have to expect responsible behavior from them.

Because I'll tell you what that respect does. It helps a kid respect herself enough that peer pressure isn't a very big deal after all. She don't have to play with adulthood with drinking or smoking or sex because she has respect as a self-determining human being.

That's what most of that is, you know. It's an attempt to assert adulthood.

Yes Pat this is ab... (Below threshold)

Yes Pat
this is about more tax dollars and creating another stream of income for the police,courts and lawyers. not about concern for teens, the almighty dollar rules the day in this country, that is why alcohol is legal but marijuana is not, if they could figure a way to tax mary jo than it would already be legal.

Synova:I don't con... (Below threshold)
Starboard Attitude:


I don't condone parent-sponsored drinking parties, nor leaving the kids unsupervised with full access to the house for any great length of time. So please don't misunderstand me.

What offended me was the suggestion that if the kids were "raised right," then they wouldn't sneak off and drink or break other rules. It irks me when non-parents rush to blame parents every time some kid chooses to disregard his/her upbringing and consciously break rules.

Yeah, there are lousy parents out there. There are also great parents who spawned naughty kids that defy their upbringing.

jdavenportYour 2nd... (Below threshold)


Your 2nd comment:
My second thought: Local control is more important that ridiculous levels of fourth amendment court oversight. If the police get out of hand, it can be dealt with by the NH legislative and court system.

So...your thinking is...I'm assuming, that since it's the 4th amendment that it's not as important?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures...

I think that the operative word...unreasonable...must control the situation.

I'm not intimately familar with NH local news, although I lived in Lowell and worked in NH for almost 5 years.

If the cops have had cases overturned in the courts due to search complaints, maybe they are being prudently cautious. Although, again not sure of the exact facts, if the cops had observed alcohol and only an underage resident was home...I would think that qualifies under the 4th amendment.

Search warrants aren't designed to protect the guilty. They are there to protect the rest of us if, and or when, this nation goes off the track...one way or the other.

I think it's time for these... (Below threshold)

I think it's time for these little brats to be accountable for breaking the law. Underage drinking is illigal and if they get caught with their hands in the basket they should be thrown in jail, maybe that would teach them life id not all about drinking and having sex.

It is when your 16 apparen... (Below threshold)

It is when your 16 apparently!

In response to jdavenport's... (Below threshold)

In response to jdavenport's first posting, in the Union Leader article it states: "When officers arrived at the home, police said, they found a 16-year-old on the home's porch, who had been drinking." Persumably the cops either got information about where the minor got the alcohol, about the gathering in general, or observed things which would allow for a judge to issue a search warrant. In NH, searches are per se unreasonable under Part I. Article 19 of the State Constitution, unless the police have a warrant or there is a judicial exception, such as Exigent Circumstances. The police must have convinced a judge that they had probable cause because otherwise a judge would not have issued the warrant.

In response to Pat's comment, under NH RSA 644:18 Facilitating a Drug or Underage Alcohol House Party the parents would only be criminally liable if one or both "knowingly commits an overt act in furtherance of the occurrence of the drug or underage alcohol house party knowing persons under the age of 21 possess or intend to consume alcoholic beverages or use controlled drugs at such drug or underage alcohol house party." In short they have to do something knowing it will assist in such a party taking place. The house party law is basic conspiracy law.

Fran: "So...your thinking i... (Below threshold)

Fran: "So...your thinking is...I'm assuming, that since it's the 4th amendment that it's not as important?"


My thinking is that the State of NH has reasonable search and seizure protections. Nothing more than that.

I'm just saying that states need room to actually govern themselves, and after a short contemplation, this incident was acceptable to me.

If federal courts interpret the fourth overly broadly, they can completely hamstring law enforcement. Crime rates occilate in local areas based on localized factors. A completely centralized system is incapable of delivering local tailored responses.

Thats all I was saying. I was NOT saying "throw out the fourth".

What are you, a lefty? If you are, and the republicans maintain power for another couple terms, you'll start to appreciate federalism.

Federalist principles should not be a left/right issue, nor even a libertarian vs statist issue.

Quality federalism is a driver for government accountability, regardless of the the scale of government.

So again, I was merely stating my preference for a narrowly construed fourth amendment, or broadly contrued for federal purposes, and more narrowly construed for state purposes.

Starboard, SilverBubble did... (Below threshold)

Starboard, SilverBubble did say maybe -- and stepping up to the plate and paying attention to what your kids are doing, does make it a damn sight more likely they'll stay out of trouble.

Don't get defensive unless you've got something to be defensive about.

Kids that have been allowed... (Below threshold)

Kids that have been allowed to learn from their mistakes by suffering the consequences without being rescued (starting before grade school), and offered decent examples of appropriate behavior are much less likely to make poor decisions regarding alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. "Keeping and eye on them" when they are teens is futile if the above has not already been ingrained. They'll simply be more sneaky. If it has, then it is unnecessary.

Being a good parent is not natural nor easy. Kid # 4 is doing great, kid #3 great, but #1 and #2 are just beginning to "suffer consequences" in their 20's, having been nagged and watched without being allowed to exercise judgement on their own up to teen years. You can't be your kids' consciences, only help nurture them.

Be interesting to see if any of the parents involved in this fiasco bailed out their kids, or forced them to come up with bail themselves, etc. I am betting the former.

Ah, yes. Good to see hard ... (Below threshold)

Ah, yes. Good to see hard earned tax dollars put to good use - breaking up parties. I feel safer already.






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