United States v. Peterson

The court will suppress the fruits of a strip search of the defendant, but not the fruits of a search of his car.

Although a police dog’s weak responses alone didn’t give officers probable cause to believe that the defendant’s car contained illegal drugs, the totality of the circumstances did establish probable cause. A GPS tracker on the defendant’s car showed that he was traveling from a high-crime area and heroin source city. The searching officer had participated in investigating the defendant prior to the search, and the defendant’s interactions with the officers gave rise to their reasonable suspicion that he had contraband in his car.

However, the defendant was required to remove all of his clothing even though he had already been frisked multiple times, and officers had no safety concerns. They simply had a hunch that the defendant had illegal drugs hidden under his clothes. Contrary to the government’s argument, mere presence in a jail to appear before a magistrate and for processing cannot give open license for sailors to conduct sexually invasive strip searches of arrestees.

Motion to suppress granted in part and denied in part.

United States v. Peterson, No. 3:18cr90, Apr. 24, 2019. EDVA at Richmond (Gibney).

Categories: Opinions, U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Virginia

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