Opening a Pocket Change Pouch Without a Police Warrant in New York

In People v. Rosado, 214 AD2d 375, 625 N.Y.S.2d 162 (1st Dept 1995), app denied, 86 NY2d 740, 655 N.E.2d 718, 631 N.Y.S.2d 621, the Defendant was lawfully arrested in a narcotics sale case and a small change pouch was discovered in his pants pocket. The pouch was opened and 26 glassine envelopes of heroin were found. The Court suppressed the evidence, holding that the police should have obtained a warrant to open the "little change pouch" they found in the Defendant's pocket. The Court pointed out that the People v. Gokey, 60 NY2d 309, 457 N.E.2d 723, 469 N.Y.S.2d 618 (1983) exigency requirement applied to any "closed containers" within the Defendant's possession and control. It would have apparently been permissible for the police to frisk the Defendant and seize glassines of heroin from inside his pockets if those objects had not been enclosed in a little change pouch. Once the heroin was not only in the Defendant's pocket but within a small pouch, however, a warrant was required.