The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that police officers can strip-search individuals who are arrested for any offense, regardless of how minor, before admitting them to prisons.
This ruling applies even if the officer does not have any reason to suspect that the arrested person possessed contraband.
This truly unprecedented decision directly affects you in more ways than you think, even when it comes to New York traffic violations.
Not too long ago, the Supreme Court held in Atwater v. Lago Vista that failing to wear a seat belt was an arrestable offense.
In that case, the Court explained that even minor criminal offenses are crimes that police officers can arrest you for.
If you put both of these cases together, you get a striking result.
Imagine, there you are driving down the New York Thruway without your seat belt on (or perhaps with a broken tail light that you did not know about). A police officer sees you, pulls you over, and arrests you for this minor infraction.
Then, he puts you in the back of his patrol car and takes you down to the local police station where you are forced to undergo a strip-search before you are introduced to the prison population. Although hard to believe, this is now legal.
Supporters of the Court’s ruling are lauding this new tool for apprehending criminals who truly are dangerous. After all, they may be carrying weapons that can be utterly harmful. Also, they argue, police officers can be trusted not to abuse this new power and to use it with the utmost discretion.
Opponents of the outcome are shocked and outraged by what they call the sweeping nature of the ruling. They claim that this power should be limited to those who are known to be dangerous or where the officer has reasonable suspicion that contraband or a weapon might be found.
Ultimately, regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the Court’s decision, it is now the law of the land.
As such, make sure to drive extremely carefully and avoid doing anything that may be considered criminal. The last thing you want is to have to be arrested and then strip-searched for something as minor as a New York traffic offense.