CA5: Search incident of open envelope on person of arrestee for bank robbery was valid; it had the note

Defendant was arrested for bank robbery, and an open envelope on his person containing the bank robbery note was subject to search incident even though it was removed from him and not searched for maybe five minutes after the arrest. United States v. McLaughlin, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27929 (5th Cir. Oct. 2, 2018):

When looking inside the envelope, Officer Connor discovered and read the bank robbery note. McLaughlin correctly observes that the Government failed to show the spatial distance between McLaughlin and the envelope and that Officer Connor was not concerned for her safety at the time she read the note. However, these facts are of no moment given that McLaughlin was carrying the unsealed envelope under his arm at the time of his arrest and that the search was conducted at the scene of the arrest (a public area) only moments after McLaughlin’s arrest. See Robinson, 414 U.S. at 235-36; see also Riley, 134 S. Ct. at 2484 (discussing Robinson, the only Supreme Court decision applying Chimel’s search incident to arrest analysis to a search of an item found on the arrestee’s person: “[T]he Court did not draw a line between a search of Robinson’s person and a further examination of the cigarette pack found during that search. It merely noted that, ‘[h]aving in the course of a lawful search come upon the … package of cigarettes, [the officer] was entitled to inspect it.'”) (quoting Robinson, 414 U.S. at 236).

Accordingly, the district court did not err in finding that the search of the unsealed envelope was a lawful search incident to arrest. We therefore affirm the district court’s denial of McLaughlin’s motion to suppress.

This entry was posted in Search incident. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.