Washington Justices Uphold Search of Woman's Purse - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State Supreme Court Upholds Yakima Police Officer's Decision to Search Purse With No Warrant

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Washington state's Supreme Court has upheld a Yakima police officer's decision to search a woman's purse without a warrant. Washington state's Supreme Court has upheld a Yakima police officer's decision to search a woman's purse without a warrant.

OLYMPIA, WA - Washington state's Supreme Court has upheld a Yakima police officer's decision to search a woman's purse without a warrant.

Back in 2009, Lisa Ann Byrd was in the passenger sear of a car with a stolen license plates. An officer pulled the car over and arrested Byrd and the car's driver. When Byrd was arrested, she had a purse on her lap.

The officer handcuffed Byrd and placed her in the back of a cruiser, and then returned to the car and searched the purse to find a glasses case containing methamphetamine.
    
A Yakima County Superior Court judge determined that the meth seized couldn't be used at trial because the officer didn't have a warrant, and the state appeals court agreed.
    
But in a 5-4 decision Thursday, the Supreme Court reversed that decision. Justice Debra Stephens wrote for the majority that officers are always allowed to search someone's "person" at the time of arrest, and because the purse was on Byrd's lap, it should be considered part of her person.

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