Nonconsensual X Ray Body Search Warrants Ruled Constitutional

An invasive and nonconsensual X-ray body cavity search was ruled constitutional on October 18, 2011, by a judge in the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. An arrestee accused of drug charges was forced to endure an anal cavity search and subsequent abdominal area X-rays following his arrest in Worchester, MA. He then sued local government and hospital defendants in a case that was later appealed to this higher court for a decision on constitutionality.

The appeals case was originated when police stopped the accused for driving with a suspended license. When an informant tipped off the police that the arrestee may have hidden crack cocaine inside his body, they received a search warrant for an anal cavity search. That search was inconclusive, so the doctor ordered further X-rays of the patient’s kidneys, ureters and bladder. His stomach area was also included in those X-rays incidentally.

The claims against the police and doctors were made for assault and battery. In addition, the accused sued for invasion of privacy, emotional distress, and supervisory liability. He cited violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution in his lawsuit, as well as the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act.

The ruling Circuit Court’s decision that this search was lawful was based on prior decisions in similar Supreme Court cases involving X-ray searches. They also decided the hospital personnel acted within reasonable expectations and that the X-ray was an acceptable method for police to use with reasonable suspicion.

If a person has been searched in a manner they feel is unlawful, there may be constitutional concerns. Being able to call in a criminal defense lawyer is an essential right for the defendant in all cases. Persons accused of such crimes are to be considered not guilty until proven otherwise.

Source: The National Law Journal, “1st Circuit: Warrant for body search encompasses nonconsensual X-ray,” Sheri Qualters, Oct. 19, 2011

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