Greene County Sheriff’s Detectives executed a search warrant at a home in Newberry, Indiana. When officers arrived, the homeowner had four guests, two male and two female. Police officers found a purse in the living room. The officer searched the purse without knowing to whom it belonged.
The owner of the purse was then identified and charged with possession of methamphetamine for items found inside the purse. She filed a motion to suppress, but the trial court denied the motion stating there was not any proof that the item belonged to a woman specifically or that it was actually a purse, but that the bag could have belonged to the homeowner.
The Court of Appeals noted that the officer called the item he searched a purse and that people have an expectation of privacy in closed items that normally hold personal items. The officer could not have reasonably believed the homeowner had the authority to consent to the search of the purse. The search violated the woman’s right to privacy and the evidence found inside should be suppressed.