Can The Police Seize Guns from People Taken to NY Mental Health Facilities?

Yes.  In Torcivia v. Suffolk County the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New York upheld a police policy to temporarily seize guns from people transported for a mental health evaluation following a domestic incident. The court said Suffolk County, New York, isn’t liable because its gun-seizure policy falls within a special-needs exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.

Can The Police Seize Guns from People Taken to NY Mental Health FacilitiesThe police went to Wayne Torcivia’s home when his teenage daughter called an emergency hotline run by child protective services. The police dispatcher said the teenager described a violent, domestic dispute involving her intoxicated father. Torcivia told officers that he had a heart condition and would die if they used a Taser on him. The police alleged that he asked them to “please tase me and kill me.” Officers took Torcivia for a psychological evaluation. Torcivia was discharged later that day and the police seized his firearms. It was standard procedure in Suffolk County to temporarily safeguard weapons when there is a domestic incident and someone is transported for a mental health evaluation.

Torcivia claimed damages under the the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision Monell v. Department of Social Services  which allows damages against municipalities for unconstitutional policies that lead to police misconduct. The appeals court said Suffolk County’s policy serves a special need and is constitutionally reasonable because the county has a substantial governmental interest in preventing suicide and domestic violence and there is no Fourth Amendment violation.

Contact experienced New York Divorce and Family Law attorneys Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC if you are a victim of domestic violence at (716) 333-5144.

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