Can Police Strip Search in New York ?
In People v. Hall, 10 NY3d 303, 886 N.E.2d 162, 856 N.Y.S.2d 540 (2008), the Court of Appeals set forth the requirements which must be met before the police can conduct either a strip search or a body cavity search of an arrestee.
Because of the extremely invasive nature of such searches, as compared to a search of a defendant's clothing and possessions incident to a lawful arrest, a higher standard must be met before a strip search or body cavity search may be undertaken.
In order to conduct a strip search, wherein the arrestee must disrobe so that a police officer can visually inspect the person's body, the police must have reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is concealing evidence underneath his or her clothing.
Further, the search must be conducted in a reasonable manner. To advance to the next level, a visual body cavity search, wherein the police officer looks at the arrestee's anal or genital cavities without any physical contact or intrusion, the police must have a specific, articulable, factual basis supporting a reasonable suspicion to believe the arrestee secreted evidence inside a body cavity.
Further, the visual inspection must be conducted reasonably, in a private setting. If an object is visually detected, or other evidence provides probable cause to believe an object is hidden inside the arrestee's body, a search warrant must be obtained prior to a manual body cavity search involving any penetration of the body cavity, unless exigent circumstances are demonstrated. Id. at 311.
In People v. Hall, supra, the Court explained that "it is important to emphasize that visual cavity inspections and manual body cavity searches cannot be routinely undertaken as incident to all drug arrests or permitted under a police department's blanket policy that subjects persons suspected of certain crimes to these procedures. There must be particular, individualized facts known to the police that justify subjecting an arrestee to these procedures." Id. at 311.