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Constitutionality of Drug Testing at the Bail Stage

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Volume: 80 Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring 1989) Pages: 114-176
Date Published
63 pages
This article examines issues arising under the fourth, fifth, and fourteenth amendments when defendants entering the criminal process in the District of Columbia are tested for drugs and discusses the constitutionality of bail stage drug testing programs.
Because bail stage drug tests are done quickly and the results made available to the court for pretrial release deliberations, there is a likelihood of inaccuracy and error. Additionally, to require a person arrested for a crime to produce urine samples that will be tested for drug use even before the individual appears before a judge raises serious constitutional questions: the fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination; the right to due process, protected by the fifth and fourteenth amendments; and the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures contained in the fourth amendment. Of these, the most difficult is whether bail stage urinalysis tests for drugs violate the accused's fourth amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The article points out that bail stage urinalysis is constitutional if it is reasonable and voluntary. If jurisdictions have bail stage urinalysis programs that do not meet reasonableness and voluntariness tests, they must modify their programs in order to conform to fourth amendment requirements. 245 footnotes.

Date Published: January 1, 1989