Can a male officer remove contraband from a female’s panties when there is a female available and on her way?

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Can a male officer remove contraband from a female’s panties when there is a female available and on her way?

I was arrested 2 days ago for going 5 mph over and possession of less than a gram of marijuana. I was not read my rights, and the possession ticket was written after my speeding ticket. The bag of marijuana was folded up in my panties, the cop saw the bulge and radioed for a female officer. When he asked me what it was I admitted it was a small bag of weed (I was already handcuffed at this point). He then grabbed me and shoved his hand up my shorts and into my panties (no gloves, 3 males present) and removed the bag. The cop had already patted me down. I’m a 19-year old 100 lb female.

Asked on August 29, 2010 under Criminal Law, Georgia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you what you indicate is true, that a) you were ticketed for speeding but somehow was patted down and b) the male officer did the pat down without gloves and c) in public, you may have a colorable claim against all the officers present during your arrest and the police department in your city or county.  First of all, the police have every right (probable cause) to pull you over if you are speeding (whether it be one mile or five or more over the speed limit).  If the police pull you over to write you a ticket, and in plain view see the marijuana, they can arrest you.  If you were sitting in your vehicle (i.e., didn't get out of your vehicle or wasn't asked to get out of your vehicle because the police ran your plate or license and discovered something), and the police officer saw a bulge, the bulge could via articulable suspicion be considered a weapon.  If so, the police need to ensure you were secured for your safety and their safety.  If he saw the bulge while you were sitting in your vehicle, asked you what it was or asked you to exit the vehicle and you told him it was marijuana after he cuffed you, he did that to ensure his safety, his fellow officers' safety and your safety.  He wanted to make sure it wasn't a knife, a small gun or some other weapon.  If you were then secured via handcuffs, then told him it was marijuana and he patted you down without gloves, there is a problem with that part of the arrest.  Your lawyer (when you consult with one) will need to ask to suppress the evidence via an illegal search or a search based on serious violations of the officer code of conduct with respect to a suspect of the opposite sex (strictly based on the lack of gloves).


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