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Rawlings v. Kentucky


Police officers, armed with an arrest warrant for Marquess, lawfully entered his house. Another resident of the house and four visitors (including the defendant) were present. While searching the house unsuccessfully for Marquess, several officers smelled marihuana and saw marihuana seeds. Two officers left to obtain a search warrant and the other officers detained the occupants, allowing them to leave only if they consented to a body search. About forty-five minutes later, the officers returned with the search warrant for the premises. Cox, a visitor, was ordered to empty her purse, which contained controlled substances. Cox told the defendant, who was standing nearby, “to take what was his.” The defendant immediately claimed ownership of the controlled substances.


Whether the defendant had a right to complain about the intrusion into Cox’s purse?


No. The defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the purse, and therefore had no standing to challenge the illegal search of it.


The defendant could not establish that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in Cox’s purse. Therefore, he had no standing to object to the search of the purse. The fact that the defendant claimed ownership of the drugs in the purse did not entitle him to challenge the legality of a search of the purse itself. Even assuming the government violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by detaining him while other officers obtained a search warrant, exclusion of the defendant’s admissions would not be necessary unless his statements were the direct result of his illegal detention.


448 U.S. 98, 100 S. Ct. 2556 (1980)

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