May 11, 2016 Pounce on warrantless police searches of bags in motel rooms and other residences
Appellate opinions on search and seizure repeatedly uphold warrantless police searches of nearly innumerable varieties. Fortunately, May 10’s Virginia’s Court of Appeals underlined the continued sanctity of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, by requiring the exclusion of illegal drugs found in Lashant Leonardo White’s bag that his girlfriend allowed police to search even though no indication existed that she held joint or sole ownership in the bag. White v. Virginia, ___ Va. App. ___ (May 10, 2016).
The search of White’s bag was preceded by his apprehension at a nearby motel after making an alleged drug deal and being found with illegal drugs in his sock. The Court ruled that White’s girlfriend did not have authority to consent for a police search of the bag over which only White had possessory interest. The Court of course did not mention, let alone find, exigent circumstances for the police to search the bag without a warrant. Consequently, the bag search was unlawful without any warrant, and the Court excluded the contents found in the bag.
Thanks and congratulations to White’s lawyer Daymen Robinson, a 2003 law school graduate, for this victory.