The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Determining "reasonableness" of searches has been a strong focal point of the United States Supreme Court throughout history. The Fourth Amendment creates the greatest protection for searches of homes, almost universally requiring a warrant to search a home. Car searches tend to be "reasonable" more often and are generally performed without a search warrant. The most intrusive of all searches, however, even more intrusive than a search of one's home, is a search of one's body. A pat down requires a very low level of "reasonable suspicion" in order to be justified. But what about a cavity search? Could the government possibly do anything more intrusive than shove their fingers inside a person? Well it happens (see the video below).
Unreasonable Search and Seizure Issues:
Stop and Frisk and Search of Persons
What constitutes a search?
Search of Vehicles and Effects
How to Suppress Evidence
Search and seizure laws have long been a big interest of mine. From traffic stops, to DUI checkpoints, to home and car searches, our Fourth Amendment rights protect us from unreasonable intrusion by law enforcement. We cannot be stopped at all without reasonable suspicion and a search that goes beyond a pat down for weapons requires probable cause. Still, these protections have been undermined to the point that we don't have the freedom we were promised.
I'm just going to throw a rule out there and see if the Court will some day catch up to it. Reaching into someones anus or vagina to find drugs is per se unreasonable. Why would we permit sexual assault or battery in order to prevent drug possession? And when that drug is marijuana, we're talking about pure insanity. The vast disparity between the serious offense being committed by the police and the benign offense they seek to prevent/uncover is something that should draw national attention, and force some change.
Thomas Jefferson would write a new Declaration of Independence if he saw this video. And if anyone belongs in Prison, it's cops like these. President Obama has shaped the US Supreme Court with his nominations, and hopefully the current group of justices will revisit this issue and specifically ban this kind of practice.
This practice occurs far too often. Inmates on their way into jails are subject to cavity searches every day, but it is important to note that this can happen on the side of the road, too. Without police accountability, this kind of behavior will continue. In fact, officers are trained to engage in this kind of ridiculous behavior. It has to stop. A small start would be getting evidence thrown out if it is recovered in this manner. But what if there is no evidence to uncover? What if a person is completely innocent and still gets violated like this by law enforcement? There needs to be a major overhaul to how police are trained and held accountable for actions such as these.
Nicholas M. Loncar, Esq.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
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Los Angeles, CA | 90017
By Nicholas Loncar
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