MN: Search of guest’s purse under SW was reasonable on totality because it wasn’t on her when police entered and it could have been associated with premises

Search of a guest’s purse during execution of a search warrant was reasonable here under the totality of the circumstances. The target of the search was a woman, and a purse is commonly associated with women. When it was found, it was not on the guest. On the totality of circumstances, it was reasonable. State v. Molnau, 2017 Minn. LEXIS 686 (Dec. 6, 2017):

Examining all of the circumstances here, we conclude that the search of Molnau’s purse was reasonable. Several facts are important to our analysis. First, the warrant application suggests that police believed that a woman, M.L.D., lived at the home with N.Z., and the parties acknowledge that a purse is an item typically associated with women. Second, at the time of the search, the police did not know to whom the purse belonged. Third, police did not find the purse in anyone’s possession; it was found unattended in a different room than where police found Molnau. Finally, it was reasonable for police to believe that they could find the drugs and contraband for which they were searching in the purse.

We emphasize that all of the facts and circumstances should be considered in determining whether the search of a guest’s belongings falls within the scope of a premises warrant. Taken together, the facts here show that the search of Molnau’s purse was reasonable, and therefore the search did not violate Molnau’s Fourth Amendment rights. Because the search was reasonable, we hold that the district court did not err in denying Molnau’s motion to suppress.

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