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Name: People v. Ermi
Case #: B241397
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 05/14/2013

Police may search purse belonging to probationer’s girlfriend, where probationer had access to it. During a search of a probationer’s home, police looked in his girlfriend Ermi’s purse, which was on a chair in the bedroom she shared with the probationer. Ermi, who appeared to be under the influence of drugs, informed the officer prior to the search that it was her purse; she denied owning the makeup bag in the purse that contained drugs. She appealed the denial of her motion to suppress evidence of the drugs as a violation of the Fourth Amendment because she was not subject to search terms. Held: Affirmed. The important issue is not whether the purse was a distinctly female repository, but whether the officer reasonably believed the probationer had control over or access to it. The probationer shared the bedroom with Ermi and therefore had control or access to the purse located in their room. The officer saw the probationer exit the bedroom just prior to the search. Based on the officer’s experience, he knew probationers hide contraband in a roommate’s belongings to avoid detection. Sufficient evidence supported a finding of the probationer’s access to the purse rendering the search lawful.