Washington's Supreme Court has upheld a Yakima police officer's decision to search a woman's purse without a warrant.
Lisa Ann Byrd was in the passenger seat of a car with stolen license plates in 2009 when the officer arrested her and the car's driver. At the time of her arrest, she had a purse on her lap.
The officer handcuffed her and placed her in the back of a cruiser, and then returned to the car and searched the purse to find a glasses case containing methamphetamine.
A Yakima County Superior Court judge determined that the meth seized couldn't be used at trial because the officer didn't have a warrant, and the state appeals court agreed.
But in a 5-4 decision Thursday, the Supreme Court reversed that decision. Justice Debra Stephens wrote for the majority that officers are always allowed to search someone's "person" at the time of arrest, and because the purse was on Byrd's lap, it should be considered part of her person.