OK, let’s play a game. Let’s see if you can figure out how the Courts decided this complex legal issue.

Assume police use a confidential informant to make a controlled drug buy outside a house. The drug dealer then goes inside the house. A few minutes later the task force arrests the drug dealer inside the house. When they are in the house, they observe a female in the living room with a black purse at her feet. They ask her whose purse it is and the individual says it is hers.

Without any additional questioning, the police then proceed to open the purse and search the interior of the purse. Inside they find a small bag of marijuana and $900.00 cash. The owner of the handbag is then arrested and charged with various drug offenses.

At the Motion to Suppress Evidence hearing, the police testified that they searched the purse because they feared it might contain a firearm. They claimed that guns and drugs go hand in hand. The police claimed that this was a protective search for weapons under the circumstances since guns follow drugs. The guns-follow-drugs theory says that when there are drug dealings involved, there are almost always guns associated with the drug transactions.

The question that the Court had to decide was were the police allowed to search the purse inside the house where the drug dealer was, under the guns-follow-drugs theory. Everyone recognizes that the police have a right to be safe in this type of situation.

The question is were the police justified in searching the purse?

What do you think? The answer is in the next Blog!!