Illegal Police Purse Search Puts Frown on Woman's Face

Theresa Ann Jones clearly wasn't happy in her August 12, 2011 mug shot.

On that day, police in Orange County stopped a vehicle leaving a motel parking lot known for drug activity.

Because the driver had no valid license, the cops took him into custody and were going to let Jones take the vehicle.

An officer grabbed Jones' purse from inside the vehicle with the intent
to inspect her license, looked inside and found 0.3 grams of cocaine.

The cops arrested Jones and 14 months later she pleaded guilty of possession of a controlled substance.

later had a change of heart and appealed. Her lawyer argued that the
conviction was unconstitutional because police had no legal cause to open her
purse without permission under the circumstances.

In late June, a
California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana agreed. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bans unreasonable police intrusions. The justices reversed the
conviction and remanded the case back to a superior court judge to
reopen the case and this time block the introduction of the illegally
obtained cocaine evidence.

Upshot: Jones, 47, won a victory but only after she'd already served her nine-month jail punishment.

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