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Future crime warrant: Department of Pre-Crime opens? Rights put into contention

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A future crime warrant has put some American freedom and privacy rights into contention this week following a Texas appeals court making a tentative decision to permit the right to search and seize with only the “prediction of a future crime.” According to the latest update on this viral story, this might someday even lead to a potential Department of Pre-Crime opening in our lifetimes. Both Alternet.org and Scholars and Rogues provide insight this Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, into this controversial ruling and possible impact it may have on the American justice system in the years to come.

The future crime warrant isn’t an actual policy yet, but Texas court officials could pass something similar to it based on a recent court case that has come to light. Jokes of opening a Department of Pre-Crime are still early yet, but some Americans are worried the public won’t be laughing if this incident becomes the norm instead of the exception.

“Last week, an appeals court in Texas ruled that police may obtain a search warrant based on the prediction of a future crime, heightening public fears that we may be heading toward a ‘predictive policing’ era in which we see police powers rapidly growing at the cost of our constitutional rights.”

The controversial choice apparently hails from a drug search and seizure case three years back. Police officials arrested a man and several other suspects after watching his house for over three weeks, following an anonymous phone call saying that the group was making methamphetamine inside.

“Then, shortly afterwards, and without a search warrant, officers charged through the man's front door and searched the house while he and his friends stood outside in handcuffs for well over an hour.”

Apparently, the officers were said to be taking advantage of the future crime warrant verdict before it had even been brought before a judge, notes the press release.

“Before they seized the boxes of pseudoephedrine, stripped lithium batteries and materials used to make meth (which were all found in the house, as the tipper said), the cops then tried to cover their tracks by obtaining a legal search warrant. However, they ultimately failed to mention the unlawful search in the warrant application and based their request entirely on the anonymous caller. In response, the defendant’s attorney’s argued in court that the items should be excluded as evidence on the basis that they had been illegally and unconstitutionally obtained. However, the motion was in turn denied, citing a clause of independent source doctrine, a measure which permits the use of illegally seized evidence if a third party identifies it beforehand."

Is this a case of police misconduct, queries the report, and the beginning of a potential future crime warrant time period where a Department of Pre-Crime might actually exist? Or is it simply savvy cop work?

A Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the trial court’s decision, though there was one judge, a Texas Justice named Lawrence Meyers, who felt that this was a violation of rights that put American freedoms in contention.

“…It is obvious to me that this search warrant was obtained based upon the officers' unlawful entry into [the accused]'s residence…Search warrants may now be based on predictions of future crimes,” Judge Meyers argued.

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