Is Forced Catheterization to Collect Urine Samples Constitutional?

A questionable police practice in South Dakota made headlines after a defense attorney asked the presiding judge to exclude urine test results used to charge Dirk Landon Sparks, with felony drug ingestion.[1] Sparks’ attorney is arguing that a search warrant to obtain a blood and urine sample did not authorize the government to strap his client to a hospital bed and force a catheter into his penis to collect urine. Such a practice, Sparks’ argues, is a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. The warrant was issued after Sparks was arrested for a domestic disturbance. While in custody, Sparks was seen by police “fidgeting and his mood changing rapidly.”[2]

Another lawyer has claimed that a couple of his clients also had urine samples taken by similar methods. More disturbingly, this lawyer said, “They don’t anesthetize them...There’s a lot of screaming and hollering.”[3] Ouch.

The judge has yet to rule on the motion, but Attorney General Marty Jackley said that the practice is permitted with a signed court order under state law, and cited several cases that supported the legality of the practice.[4]

This acceptability of this method to obtain blood and urine samples by force may vary from state to state, so we’ll wait to see what this South Dakota judge says. In the mean time, if you or someone you know has been or is being prosecuted with evidence that was obtained by force similar to the facts of this story, call a competent civil rights attorney today to determine whether your constitutional rights were violated.


By Ara M. Baghdassarian, Esq., Barnes Law

Ara is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in California.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.



[3] Id.