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Name: U.S.v. Lemus
Case #: 08-50403
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 09/22/2009

Under the “protective search incident to the arrest,” exception to the Fourth Amendment, police can search an area immediately adjoining the place of arrest. Police officers went to appellant’s residence to arrest him pursuant to a warrant. One of the officers was familiar with appellant, having previously conducted a probation search of appellant’s residence where drugs were found. He also knew that appellant was a member of a group involved in a drive-by shooting and that some of appellant’s relatives had been arrested for violent crimes. Appellant was arrested at the sliding glass door that led to the living room. Officers then checked inside the living room to see if anyone was present and, while there, saw what they believed was the butt of a gun protruding from the couch. A gun was ultimately recovered. The appellate court upheld the legality of the search, relying on Maryland v. Buie (1990) 494 U.S. 325, which authorizes a protective search incident to arrest for officer safety reasons. Because the officers were justified in conducting a search of the interior of the apartment without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, anything in plain view that they discovered in the course of that search could be seized without violating the Fourth Amendment.