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United States v. Knapp, —F.3d— (10th Cir. Mar. 5, 2019)

Mar 5, 2019

On appeal from denial of her motion to suppress, defendant argued that police searched her purse in violation of the Fourth Amendment.  The government responded that the search was constitutionally permissible as a search of defendant’s “person” incident to arrest.  The Tenth Circuit held that the search of a purse or similar item carried by an arrestee but not within her clothing is not a search “of the person” under Fourth Amendment jurisprudence.  The court reasoned that treating a purse or other similar item carried by the arrestee as an extension of the arrestee’s “person” would erode the important distinction between the arrestee’s “person” and the area within her immediate control.