A California woman is filing suit against Imperial County and a sheriff’s sergeant for what she alleges was an improper strip search. Earlier this year, plaintiff Ana Hicks alleged in court documents that she was falsely arrested and subjected to the inappropriate search during booking at the Imperial County Jail. At the time of the alleged incident, Hicks was being charged with a misdemeanor for public drunkenness.
The arrest occurred on the night of Dec. 26, 2010, after Hicks ran to the aid of her husband who had been stabbed multiple times. Hicks claims she had not had a drop of alcohol that night.
Whether Hicks was improperly strip searched—or strip searched at all—is a question for the court. But her case highlights the confusion many have surrounding the proper protocol that authorities must follow when subjecting citizens to extremely invasive searches.
“Legally, there has to be a good cause for a strip search,” says Thomas Carr, an attorney at Tully Rinckey. “It’s not like they can just pull someone over for a DWI and bring them back to the station and strip search them. There’s a pretty high standard that police have to meet.”
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