When you are arrested for a crime, you will probably be frightened and anxious. You may be too overwhelmed to think straight. So, when a law enforcement officer asks you to submit to a strip search, you may think you have to comply with this request.
However, there are very strict requirements for a strip search, and if the police violate these requirements, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to have any evidence they find thrown out by the court.
Rules Regarding Strip Searches (PC 4030)
The problem with strip searches is that officers can very easily abuse their authority when conducting such a search. This issue with strip searches was so widespread that California Penal Code Section 4030 was passed.
This law states:“The Legislature finds and declares that law enforcement policies and practices for conducting strip or body cavity searches of detained persons vary widely throughout California. Consequently, some people have been arbitrarily subjected to unnecessary strip and body cavity searches after arrests for minor misdemeanor and infraction offenses. Some present search practices violate state and federal constitutional rights to privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.”
A “strip search” could refer to one of two different types of searches: a visual strip search or a physical body cavity search. There are different rules for each type of search.
Visual Strip Search
This type of search is a visual inspection of your genitals and buttocks for any concealed weapon or contraband. Under PC 4030, an officer conducting a visual strip search “shall not touch the breasts, buttocks, or genitalia of the person being searched.”
You cannot be subject to a strip search without the officers having a reasonable suspicion that a concealed weapon or contraband will be found. If that reasonable suspicion exists, the supervising officer on duty must provide written authorization for the search, including declaring the specific and articulable facts and circumstances upon which the supervisor made the determination for the search.
Body Cavity Search
Alternatively, the officer might conduct a physical body cavity search, in which he or she will physically intrude into your anus or vagina to discover if any objects are hidden inside your body.
The requirements for a body cavity search are much stricter. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966) that a body cavity search requires a search warrant to be issued before the search. Additionally, the search must be conducted under sanitary conditions and only by one of the following:
- Nurse practitioner
- Registered nurse
- Licensed vocational nurse, or
- Emergency medical technician Level II licensed to practice in California
Can the Police Search My Genitals?
Based on PC 4030, law enforcement officers are not allowed to visually search your genitals without a first obtaining written permission from a supervisor. Additionally, law enforcement officers are not allowed to physically search your genitals.
If you were subject to a strip search or body cavity search and you believe the very strict requirements to conduct these kinds of searches were not followed, your experienced criminal defense lawyer may have grounds to challenge the use of any evidence found during the search.
Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you believe your rights were violated during an arrest, you should contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible. Our skilled lawyers have more than 40 years of experience successfully defending clients facing criminal charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Contact our law firm today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.