Warrantless Search

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Memorandum
TO: Judge Pearson
FROM: Charles Winfield
RE: Joe Green case – Larceny and Marijuana and Cocaine Possession Prosecution DATE: July 26, 2012

Brief Summary
Joe Green was arrested and charged with larceny and possession of cocaine and marijuana. Green allegedly stole the backpack at a movie theater where he was in attendance, seated next to the backpack's owner, Danny Hall, who had placed the backpack under his seat. Hall noticed his backpack was gone upon seeing the man next to him quickly and abruptly leave the theater.

Question Presented
Is the warrantless search of Joe Green, who was arrested for larceny and drug possession after being detained by police on the lookout for someone who stole a backpack and matching the description of someone wearing a light red shirt, black pants and white sneakers, legal?

Short Answer
Yes. Mr. Green fit the description of a current suspect for whom a lookout was announced. He was noticed by the police and then detained. He was frisked by the arresting officer. Searches are deemed reasonable depending on the totality of circumstance when supported by probable cause, warrants or exigent circumstances. The victim's backpack was in plain view in the vehicle. The warrantless search incident to the arrest was valid.

Rule of Law – Cases for the Basis of Analysis
In NY v. Belton 453 US 454 (1981), the Supreme Court held that a lawful custodial arrest based on probable cause justifies a search without a warrant of the person arrested and the passenger compartment.

In Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009) the Supreme Court held that police may search the passenger compartment of a vehicle incident to a recent occupant's arrest (and therefore without a warrant) only if it is reasonable to believe that the arrestee might access the vehicle at the time of the search or that the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.

In Thornton v. United States, 541 U.S. 615 (2004), the Supreme Court held that...
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