What happens when the police start a chase of a suspect, the suspect abandons something, the police recover that which was abandoned, arrest the person they are chasing, and charge them with something illegal related to abandoned item recovered? The recovery of the item seized from the abandonment is not a search or a seizure under the law. Instead, the focus is on the initial stop by the police. The court will look at why the person was stopped and whether the stop was illegal. Where the person was under arrest at the time of the stop, the arrest was unlawful, the person runs, abandons an item, the item will be suppressed.
Remember, the Pennsylvania constitution can always give you more rights then the federal constitution. Abandonment is directly on point. Note, in federal court, the mere running from the police officers is never a seizure, however in Pennsylvania, the mere running from police can be construed as a seizure depending on the circumstance. The law in Pennsylvania is slowly whittling away. This erosion rears its head when the Commonwealth can show any illegal activity on the part of the defendant at the time of the initial flight. Anything the officer can articulate to show the officer herself observed the defendant engage in illegal activity will overcome the Pennsylvania standard and go to the federal rule.
Further, all of the normal suppression rules apply. Anything the prosecutor can argue to show the person claims no ownership of the discarded item will also prevent suppression of the abandoned item. If you claim the luggage isn’t yours, how could you have abandoned it?
Abandonment was once a fertile ground in Pennsylvania to have something suppressed. However, today there is limited to no abandonment law in Pennsylvania. The only scenarios clearly suppressed are those where the officer pulls up to a scene, sees nothing illegal, suspects nothing illegal is occurring, the police egress toward a person, the person takes off running, abandons narcotics, and the officer seizes the drugs and arrests the person.