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Police cannot draw blood without consent

One of the news stories to capture national attention this month took place in Salt Lake City, where police arrested a nurse for refusing a blood draw from an unconscious patient. The nurse was following hospital rules to protect patient privacy. The detective on the scene arrested her for obstruction.

In addition to the hospital’s rules, the United States Supreme Court made a similar ruling last year regarding consent for blood draws. In short, it says that a blood draw is intrusive of personal rights in a way that an alcohol breath test is not.

Police need consent to collect a sample. In Salt Lake City, there was no warrant, the patient was not a suspect in a crime and, because the patient was unconscious, there was no way to get consent.

Search and seizure, consent and personal property

Search and seizure is central to the Bill of Rights, granting personal freedoms when authorities request compliance. There are well known rights, such as the Miranda warning and the requirement for a warrant before entering a property, but search and seizure is a complex and hard to define topic with many details that people overlook. Under legal terms, blood is personal property. Police need a warrant or consent to take it.

While the nurse received attention for performing her job duties, the patient’s rights are central to this case. If the patient’s blood was drawn in these circumstances, it would likely be invalid evidence in court because it was taken without consent.

Upholding your rights

When interacting with police, it’s easy to feel intimidated by their authority. While most officers follow the rules, they are also humans who make mistakes on the job. If you have been arrested for a crime, it’s important to review the arrest procedure to make sure your rights are protected.

If you feel that your rights have been abused, it’s important that you speak with a criminal defense attorney to investigate your case as soon as possible. Police have a difficult job to maintain public safety, but the US Constitution provides a balance of power to make sure that your individual rights remain safe as well.

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