CERTIORARI TO THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT.
Burger, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which White, Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist, Stevens, and O'connor, JJ., joined. Marshall, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Brennan, J., joined, post, p. 649.
CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.
The question presented is whether, at the time an arrested person arrives at a police station, the police may, without obtaining a warrant, search a shoulder bag carried by that person.
On September 1, 1980, at about 10 p.m., Officer Maurice Mietzner of the Kankakee City Police arrived at the Town Cinema in Kankakee, Ill., in response to a call about a disturbance. There he found respondent involved in an altercation with the theater manager. He arrested respondent for disturbing the peace, handcuffed him, and took him to the police station. Respondent carried a purse-type shoulder bag on the trip to the station.
At the police station respondent was taken to the booking room; there, Officer Mietzner removed the handcuffs from respondent and ordered him to empty his pockets and place
the contents on the counter. After doing so, respondent took a package of cigarettes from his shoulder bag and placed the bag on the counter. Mietzner then removed the contents of the bag, and found 10 amphetamine pills inside the plastic wrap of a cigarette package.
Respondent was subsequently charged with violating § 402(b) of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 56 1/2, para. 1402(b) (1981), on the basis of the controlled substances found in his shoulder bag. A pretrial suppression hearing was held at which the State argued that the search of the shoulder bag was a valid inventory search under South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364 (1976). Officer Mietzner testified that he examined the bag's contents because it was standard procedure to inventory "everything" in the possession of an arrested person. App. 15, 16. He testified that he was not seeking and did not expect to find drugs or weapons when he searched the bag, and he conceded that the shoulder bag was small enough that it could have been placed and sealed in a bag, container, or locker for protective purposes. Id., at 15. After the hearing, but before any ruling, the State submitted a brief in which it argued for the first time that the search was valid as a delayed search incident to arrest. Thereafter, the trial court ordered the suppression of the amphetamine pills. Id., at 22.
On appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed. 99 Ill. App. 3d 830, 425 N. E. 2d 1383 (3d Dist. 1981). It first held that the State had waived the argument that the search was incident to a valid arrest by failing to raise that argument at the suppression hearing. Id., at 832, 425 N. E. 2d, at 1385. However, the court went on to discuss and reject the State's argument: "[Even] assuming, arguendo, that the State has not waived this argument, the stationhouse search of the shoulder bag did not constitute a valid search incident to a lawful arrest." Id., at 833, 425 N. E. 2d, at 1385.
The state court also held that the search was not a valid inventory of respondent's belongings. It ...