NM: Inventory of def’s backpack many feet away from him was unreasonable, even though he admitted MJ was in it [Revd by NMSC]

Defendant on his motorcycle was followed by an officer because the officer knew that he didn’t have a valid driver’s license. He pulled into his driveway and parked behind his car and got off the bike, putting his backpack on his car and walking halfway to meet the officer. When defendant was arrested for driving on a suspended DL, the inventory of the backpack was unreasonable because it wasn’t on him at the time of arrest even though he admitted there was marijuana in it. The police simply provided no justification for it. State v. Davis, 2016 N.M. App. LEXIS 38 (June 6, 2016), rev’d State v. Davis, 2017 N.M. LEXIS 86 (Nov. 9, 2017):

P1 This case concerns the inventory search exception to the warrant requirement. The Court of Appeals concluded that the inventory search that occurred in this case was invalid because Defendant Wesley Davis did not possess the backpack searched at the time of arrest as the backpack was not “on his person or in his physical possession ….” State v. Davis, 2016-NMCA-073, ¶¶ 1, 10-11, 387 P.3d 274. We disagree that possession in the inventory search context should be so narrowly construed. We embrace a broader definition of possession, conclude that Davis did possess the backpack at the time of arrest, and hold that the inventory search was valid. The Court of Appeals is reversed.

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