Know Your Privacy Rights if You Are Arrested

People Arrested for Traffic Violations and Minor Offenses Can be Strip Searched

jailed personHumiliating, demeaning, and derogatory may describe how one would feel after a strip search in a New Jersey county jail. Were you detained and strip searched for a minor violation? A divided Supreme Court has ruled that a detainee in jail may be strip searched after being arrested for anything stemming from a minor offense to a more serious charge. However, the courts must take into consideration prison officials’ discretion, which may be a subjective opinion in determining who is stripped searched.

Ultimately, in the eyes of authority, the goal is to prevent new inmates from putting lives at risk. Prison officials should have reasonable doubt to strip search someone brought in on a minor charge. If this happened to you, you need to know your rights. Our experienced, knowledgeable and qualified criminal defense attorneys at Villani & DeLuca can help you through this daunting time. We are just a phone call away at (732) 965-3350.

Man Strip Searched After Detained for Failure to Pay Traffic Fine

In 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a New Jersey case that people who are arrested for traffic violations and petty criminal offenses can lawfully be subject to strip searches in county jails. A strip search generally means a search for something concealed on a person performed after removal of the person’s clothing. This highly publicized ruling could possibly affect thousands of New Jersey citizens. The decision came after a defendant was arrested during a traffic stop by a New Jersey State Trooper.

The office, after checking the computer database, found a bench warrant issued for the defendant’s arrest because he failed to appear at a hearing for failing to pay a fine. Defendant was then detained in both the Burlington County Detention Center and then in the Essex County Correctional Facility before being released upon determination that the fine was indeed paid. At both jails the defendant was required to shower and disrobe as officers checked for scars, tattoos and contraband. Defendant also had an officer look in his ears, nose, mouth, hair, scalp fingers, armpits and other bodily openings.

Court Declares Searches Constitutional to Protect Safety of Officers

Defendant filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in Federal District Court alleging Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations that persons arrested for minor offenses cannot be subjected to invasive searches unless prison officials have reason to suspect concealment of weapons, drugs or other contraband. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately concluded that the search procedures performed struck a reasonable balance between inmate privacy and the needs of the institutions, and thus the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments do not require adoption of the framework.

In reaching its argument, the Court reasoned that the seriousness of an offense was a poor predictor of who has contraband and it would be difficult to determine whether individual detainees required less than a typical search. Correctional officials typically have little idea of what offense each inmate had committed when conducting an intake into their facility. They also have a very strong interest in conducting full searches to all inmates to protect both themselves and the other inmates. Ultimately, deferring to the security concerns of jail officials is the main component.

Know your rights! The Court states that visual strip searches, which do not involve physical contact by correction officers, is also an option. It should also be noted that the Court also states it is not always reasonable to conduct a full strip search when the arrestee is held in a facility apart from the general population. Serious invasions to personal privacy is no laughing matter. There are exceptions to every rule. Ask an attorney at Villani & DeLuca to help you if you think that your right to privacy was violated.

Call Villani & DeLuca if You Feel Your Rights Were Violated

If you have been charged with a criminal offense or serious traffic violation, you need to call an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Partner, Carmine R. Villani, Esq. has a wealth of experience in New Jersey criminal defense having served as municipal prosecutor and municipal public defender in numerous municipalities in Ocean County and Monmouth County throughout his 20+ year legal career. Contact the experienced NJ criminal defense attorneys of Villani & DeLuca for a free initial consultation. Call (732) 965-3350 today!