Strip searches; authorized search of certain misdemeanants, etc. (SB68)

Introduced By

Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston) with support from co-patron Del. Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Strip searches of certain misdemeanants, etc. Authorizes the strip search of a person in custodial arrest for a traffic infraction, a Class 3 or Class 4 misdemeanor, or a local ordinance punishable by no more than 30 days in jail for controlled substances, marijuana, or other contraband if a law-enforcement officer has reasonable cause to believe that such person is concealing any of these items. Currently, only strip searches of such persons for weapons is allowed. Read the Bill »


11/30/2017: Awaiting a Vote in the Courts of Justice Committee


11/30/2017Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18101085D
11/30/2017Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/15/2018Stricken at the request of Patron in Courts of Justice (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)


Anon writes:


This bill should die on day 1.

This would open the floodgates to discriminatory enforcement and extremely invasive bodily searches by police. Imagine your 18-year-old child being subjected to a police strip search because (1) s/he is charged with spitting on the sidewalk (check out Va. Code 18.2-322) and (2) someone credibly accuses them of having some marijuana -- which is now legal in many states -- on their person.

This bill would allow exactly that, and 100s of different permutations in which minimal wrongdoing leads to massive invasionso f bodily privacy by law enforcement.

It's a blank check for discriminatory enforcement. The bill's patron should be ashamed.

Anon writes:

Some other class 3 and 4 misdemeanors:

None of these are punishable with jail time...

But, Sen. Howell wants them to be the "way in," literally, for police who think someone has "contraband." One of these petty charges plus "reasonable cause" (the lowest legal standard of proof in criminal law) to believe you have "contraband" (including marijuana) = "time to drop your drawers, perp!"

* Permitting a dog to run at large (18.2-121.1)

* Violating any regulation of tidal fisheries (28.2-903)

* Operating an uninsured motor vehicle (46.2-707)

* Violating any wildlife or game regulation (29.1-505)

* Profane Swearing or Intoxication in Public (Code 18.2-388)

* Fail to answer tax questions from Commissioner of Revenue (58.1-3128)

* Picking a flower in a public park without prior written permission (18.2-140)

* Fornication (sex with someone not your spouse; Code 18.2-344)

* Unlawful burning of brush (10.2-1142)

* Open container in vehicle (18.2-323.1)

* Fail to pay for dog or cat license (18.2-403.3)

* Trespassing on railroad track (18.2-159)

* Unauthorized use or display of a registered fraternal lodge insignia (18.2-177)

* Deceptive alteration of a newspaper after printing for publication (18.2-210)

Perhaps the point is made...any and every little violation of rule or regulation, will give the police power to take off your clothes by force to search for the marijuana cigarette or Xanax pill they for some articulable reason think you have lodged in your private area.

Outrage Fatigue writes:

So are we just trashing "Land of the free" now?

I'm a lifelong democrat. But THIS IS WHY people are leaving the party. The more things like this happen, the more people want a 3rd party. If you value your reelection at all, you'll withdraw this absurd bill. If not, keep putting out legislation that writes people carte Blanche to discriminate and we'll get another party.

Rachel Gatwood writes:

I'm disappointed in Senator Howell. This bill gives the police an unconscionable amount of power over people's bodies and privacy, and that power will be used disproportionately against black people and other minorities. I'm especially disgusted by the part about marijuana.

ACLU-VA Police Practices, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia opposes this legislation recommended by the Arlington County Sheriff and has urged the patron to strike it from the docket.

Margaret Breslau writes:

Terrible bill, really bad.