Friday, April 10, 2009

People v. Smith (Cal. Ct. App. - April 9, 2009)

You're sitting in your car, minding your own business, in the parking lot of a motel. A cop sees you and starts questioning you, and you even consent to a patdown search and a search of your car, which finds nothing. What's the reasonable suspicion? Nothing. But you go along with it to be cooperative.

Things change, however, when the officer says that he's going to pull down your pants. You demur to the request, which does you no good, as the police promptly put you into a control hold. They put you near their police car, surround you a tiny bit, and in front of anyone who happens to be looking, (1) pull down your pants to your knees and, (2) pull the elastic of your underwear forward so they can see your genitals. And then reach on in to grab whatever they might find.

The Court of Appeal holds that such a search is entirely "reasonable" in scope and effect.

Sure, the defendant here happens to be on parole, with a "diminished expectation of privacy," but I didn't know that meant to were compelled to show your junk to any official who wants to view it.

P.S. - I tend to think that I'm reasonably well-informed as to various legal -- and non-legal -- terms. But I must admit that before this case, I'd never heard of the term "reach-in", which is what these types of searches are called. "Reacharound" I know. But reach-in's a new one to me.