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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > December 2015 > State v. Frazee, 2015 Ohio 4786

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State v. Frazee, 2015 Ohio 4786

Question: Can a jacket, worn and removed by a suspect immediately preceding his arrest, be searched incident to arrest?

Quick Answer: Yes, so long as the arrestee has the item within his immediate control near the time of the arrest.

Facts: A deputy on patrol engaged in a consensual encounter with Frazee and his girlfriend as they were walking in a high crime area. After requesting and receiving Frazee’s identification, the deputy confirmed Frazee had an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Upon advising Frazee of the warrant and ordering him to put his hands behind his back, Frazee asked to remove one of the two coats he was wearing. Since the coats were bulky, the deputy allowed Frazee to remove his exterior coat so he could be handcuffed more comfortably. After removing the coat, the deputy placed it on the trunk of his cruiser, handcuffed and searched Frazee’s person and placed him into the back of the patrol car. The deputy then retrieved the coat and searched it, finding heroin in one of the pockets. The appellate court, which overturned the trial court’s order to suppress the evidence, noted “the right to search incident to arrest exists even if the item is no longer accessible to the arrestee at the time of the search.”

Keep in Mind: This case is distinguishable from Gant, which dealt with automobile searches. The court reminded that Gant was narrowly confined to vehicles and this case involved the search of an item that was on Frazee’s person.