What Constitutes a Strip Search and Where can it be conducted?
Commonwealth v. Morales, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, May 29, 2012
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld suppression of drugs retrieved from the Defendant’s buttocks as a unreasonable strip search. Although the court concluded there existed sufficient probable cause to believe an item was secreted and thus conduct the search, the execution of that search on a public sidewalk surrounded by four police officers was considered unreasonable. The Court concluded that once the Detective determined the secreted item was not a weapon, there was no longer any safety concern and mandated transport of the Defendant to a private space or location to conduct said search.
Further, the Court extended the definition of strip search set in Commonwealth v. Prophete, 443 Mass 548 (2005) beyond the mere removal of the final layer of clothing. Specifically, the Massachusetts Supreme Court opined that the act of exposing the Defendant’s intimate private area by pulling back his shorts was a significant intrusion and should be considered a strip search despite the failure to remove the “final layer of clothing.”
For the full Supreme Court Opinion, please see http://www.massreports.com/slipops/