What if a person is searched immediately before he is arrested? And what if there is probable cause to arrest, but not for the crime for which he is arrested? In this case, the Ninth Circuit held that the justifications for the search incident to arrest (SIA) exception do not lose any of their force when a search is performed by an officer who has probable cause to arrest and then shortly thereafter does arrest. So long as the search was incident to and preceding a lawful arrest (“roughly contemporaneous”) it is a valid search incident to arrest. Furthermore, the arresting officer’s subjective crime of arrest need not have been the crime for which probable cause existed. As long as there was probable cause for arrest, it doesn’t matter the officer arrested for a different offense for which probable cause did not exist.
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