County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-15-1608
Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and James C.
Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Ryan C. McCarthy,
Assistant County Attorney, Hastings, Minnesota (for
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Sara L.
Martin, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for
Considered and decided by Reyes, Presiding Judge; Peterson,
Judge; and Bjorkman, Judge.
in a suspected shoplifter's possession at the time the
suspect is detained by a merchant's employee remains
immediately associated with the suspect's person, and the
responding officer may search the purse along with the
suspect incident to a lawful arrest when the officer knew or
had reason to know the suspect possessed the purse at the
time of detention.
challenges her convictions of fifth-degree possession of a
controlled substance, arguing that the district court erred
in denying her motion to suppress drug evidence found in her
purse during a search incident to her arrest. We affirm.
20, 2015, at approximately 1:30 p.m., a store investigator at
a grocery store observed appellant Traci Rankin Bradley pick
up two food items from the deli area, carry them to a
shopping aisle, place them in her purse, and exit the store
without paying for the items. The investigator followed
appellant outside, displayed his security badge, and told
appellant that she needed to return to the store. Appellant
refused. The investigator attempted to take appellant into
custody, but appellant resisted. During the ensuing scuffle,
appellant attempted to discard the items on the sidewalk and
tried to hand her purse to a friend who had accompanied her
to the store. The investigator took appellant's purse,
stating that it was evidence of the crime, and, with the
assistance of the store manager, handcuffed appellant and
escorted her to the manager's office inside of the store
along with her purse. The investigator seated appellant in a
chair and placed her purse on top of the manager's desk.
The manager then called the police.
p.m., two police officers responded to the shoplifting call.
Dispatch informed the officers that appellant also had
outstanding warrants. One officer proceeded to the
manager's office and spoke to the investigator and
appellant. That officer arrested appellant and then searched
her purse. The officer discovered suspected narcotics within
a zipped compartment of appellant's purse, consisting of
a baggie containing a white, powdery substance and a
container with several pills. The Bureau of Criminal
Apprehension later determined that the baggie contained 0.932
grams of methadone and identified the assorted pills as
hydromorphone, oxycodone, and lorazepam.
was charged with two counts of fifth-degree
controlled-substance crime, in violation of Minn. Stat.
§ 152.025, subds. 2(a)(1), 2(b)(2) (2014), and one count
of misdemeanor theft, in violation of Minn. Stat. §
609.52, subds. 2(a)(1), 3(5) (2014). Appellant filed a motion
to suppress the evidence found in her purse as the fruit of
an unlawful search, which the district court denied.
Appellant waived her right to a jury trial and agreed to a
court trial to preserve for appellate review the pretrial
suppression ruling. See Minn. R. Crim. P. 26.01,
subd. 4. The district court found her guilty of all counts,
entered judgment of conviction on all counts, and sentenced
her to 21 months in prison on one count of fifth-degree
controlled-substance crime. This appeal follows.
district court err in determining that appellant's Fourth
Amendment rights were not violated when the ...