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NCJ Number
Journal of Juvenile Law Volume: 13 Dated: (1992) Pages: 127-132
S Davisson
Date Published
6 pages
This legal analysis examines whether the State's interest is substantial enough when using juvenile gang checkpoints to outweigh the juvenile's fourth amendment rights.
To date, the U.S. Supreme Court has never upheld a police roadblock designed to promote general law enforcement as constitutional. The Supreme Court has allowed suspicionless roadblock stops in only two contexts, both of which involved specific government interests distinct from general law enforcement. In an effort to combat an increase in crime related to juvenile gangs, police departments in some cities have instituted vehicle checkpoints to identify juvenile gangs and gang members. The Galberth v. United States case is relevant to juvenile gang checkpoints; it involved a roadblock established by a District of Columbia police program called Operation Clean Sweep to control drug trafficking. One of the program's roadblocks resulted in an individual's arrest and conviction for carrying a pistol without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals concluded that the government's deterrence interest advanced by the roadblock was not substantial enough to outweigh the seized individual's liberty interest. Therefore, the appellate court found that the Operation Clean Sweep roadblock violated the fourth amendment because the roadblock was designed to deal with violence, drugs, and guns and that these goals did not outweigh the individual's liberty interests. The state's interest in juvenile gang checkpoints parallels that described in Galberth, to deter gang violence and crimes. When weighed against the seized individual's liberty interest, the state's interest may not be substantial enough to render the checkpoints constitutional under the fourth amendment. However, if the emerging trend in appellate courts, State supreme courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court to expand police powers and liberalize search and seizure rules continues, informational gang checkpoints may be upheld as constitutional. 24 footnotes