When Are Strip Searches Legal? - The Chicago Criminal Law Blog

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When Are Strip Searches Legal?

When are strip searches legal in Illinois? 33-year-old Dana Holmes of Coal City is filing a claim claiming that hers wasn't, the Chicago Tribune reports. On top of that, once she filed her claim, her lawyer, attorney Terry Ekl says that other women are now coming forward, alleging similar conduct.

Holmes was arrested for a DUI last spring and claims that her civil rights had been violated when four deputies had stripped her naked without any justification.

There are many factors taken into consideration when determining the legal validity of a strip search. Here is an overview of those legal concerns:

Strip Searches in General

According to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, a strip search conducted on an inmate is not considered an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment, regardless of individualized suspicion and the underlying offense they were arrested for.

This decision ultimately came down to the crucial need for jailhouses to maintain safety. What this means is that, in general, strip searches conducted by police officers on inmates are completely legal, regardless of whether or not there is any particular suspicion. All that matters is that it was for the purpose of maintaining safety and order.

Strip Searches in Illinois

However, despite this general allowance, there are still particular rules that need to be abided by or else a strip search can be found unconstitutional. Strip searches, under Illinois law in particular, are generally legal when these factors are met:

  • Scope of search is limited. The strip search entails the arrested person removing some of all of his or her clothing, so as to permit a visual inspection of the genitals, buttocks, anus, female breasts, or undergarments.
  • Performed by officer of the same sex. Illinois law requires that all strip searches conducted are performed by an officer of the same sex.
  • Written permission. Every peace officer of employee conducting the search has obtained a written permission of the police commander or an agent who authorizes the search.
  • No body cavity. Body cavities, aside from one's mouth, are restricted from being searched, unless officers obtain a properly executed search warrant.

If you think that you've been the victim of an illegal strip search in Illinois, be sure to contact a local, experienced attorney immediately to help you sort out your case and seek justice.

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