Wisconsin Stop and Frisks and Strip Searches

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, reasonable searches—including stop and frisk and strip searches—are constitutional. If you’ve gone through the uncomfortable and sometimes harmful stop and frisk or strip search, then you are likely wondering whether the police had the right to do what they did or if, instead, you could have a police brutality case.

Stop and Frisk

Both the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the United States Supreme Court requires that all stop and frisks be reasonable.

At the time you are frisked, it may feel like the police are being unreasonable or that something is not right, but you might not know for sure. If you have any feeling that you were mistreated, then we encourage you to contact an experienced Wisconsin police brutality lawyer for a free consultation. We will review all of the facts of your case to determine whether the Wisconsin State Patrol or a local police officer:

  • Had reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime, were in the process of committing a crime, or were going to commit a crime. The police officer must reasonably believe that a crime was committing, is being committed, or will soon be committed to stop and frisk you.
  • Gave your outer clothes a quick pat down to check for weapons. Anything more intrusive than that could be a violation of your rights.

Unreasonable stop and frisks are unconstitutional and can result in physical or emotional injuries for the person who was unreasonably or improperly detained and patted down.

Strip Searches

Strip searches are, of course, even more invasive than police pat downs. In Wisconsin, a strip search is defined as a “…search in which the detainee’s genitals, pubic area, buttock, anus, or a female detainee’s breast, is uncovered and either is exposed to view or is touched by a person conducting the search…”

Unlike a brief stop and frisk, police officers cannot conduct a strip search immediately based solely on reasonable suspicion that the suspect is hiding a weapon, drugs, or evidence of a crime.

Instead, Wisconsin law requires that the police officer requesting the strip search make a request to an officer of a higher rank. If the request is approved, then specific procedures must be followed, such as:

  • Two police officers who are the same gender as the person being searched must conduct the search
  • The search must be done in a private place
  • The search may not be recorded
  • The search must be documented in a report that identifies the person who was searched, the people conducting the search, the time, date and place of the search, and the written authorization that allowed the search. A copy of the report must be provided to the person who was searched

If the police believe that a body cavity search must be done, then the requirements are even more stringent. In Wisconsin, a police officer cannot conduct a body cavity search. Instead, the officer must get a warrant and have a doctor, physician assistant, or registered nurse perform the cavity search.

Additional rules apply for minors and disabled detainees.

Do You Need a Police Brutality Lawyer?

Stop and frisks and strip searches are embarrassing and uncomfortable. They can also result in serious physical injuries, including potential sexual abuse. If you have suffered a serious injury because of a police officer’s excessive force, then we encourage you to contact us for a free and confidential consultation as soon as possible.

Our lawyers have secured the largest police brutality settlement in Wisconsin history. While past results don’t guarantee the result in any future case, we can promise you that we will use our experience and knowledge to help you through this difficult time.

Please call us or fill out our online contact form to have us contact you so that we can discuss your potential claim and make sure that your right to a fair recovery is protected.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.