Is it legal for a male police officer to strip search a female without a female officer present?

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Is it legal for a male police officer to strip search a female without a female officer present?

My friend was striped searched by a male police officer at the police station even though my female friend had asked for a female officer to do the search. Is that even legal in PA? She is only 20 years old and was extremely uncomfortable with him strip searching her without another female even being there.

Asked on May 11, 2011 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your friend should have had her request granted and typically that is the process. A female officer must be called in (from the precinct or elsewhere to conduct the search). Your friend may have a case of assault or at least (very minimum) a good complaint against the department for violation of department policies in general and arrest and search policies specifically. Your friend should immediately and I mean immediately contact a criminal defense attorney (talk to at least one male defense attorney and one female defense attorney) and see if the criminal attorney can handle this issue in conjunction with any charges filed against your friend (a good bargaining chip if you ask me for any fourth amendment violations) or if your friend must also consult a personal injury attorney who has experience with police officer policy violations. By the way, in many states, your lawyer can ask for what in California is called a Pitchess motion (has a different name in other states). This is the motion to obtain the police officer's personnel records to see if a) there is a discplinary history relevant to your issue and b) to help you to see if this officer has a pattern and practice of similar violations.


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