Today we take a closer look at the Plain View Doctrine, an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement every citizen should be aware of.
What Is the Plain View Doctrine?
The Plain View Doctrine is a rule that allows law enforcement officers to seize evidence of a crime without obtaining a search warrant as long as said evidence is in plain view (hence the name of this exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement).
A discovery made using the Plain View Doctrine must meet three requirements:
• The officer must be lawfully present at the place where the evidence is.
• The officer must have lawful right of access to the object.
• The incriminating character of the object must be immediately apparent
What Does It Mean For You?
Being aware of how the Plain View Doctrine works is essential to ensuring that your rights are protected. Here are some scenarios that may help you understand how the Plain View Doctrine works.
A person agrees to talk to a police officer in their house. As the conversation proceeds, the officer notices drugs on the table, then proceeds to seize the drugs and arrest the person.
In this case, all the actions undertaken by the police officer are legal, because they meet all the requirements of the Plain View Doctrine: the officer was lawfully in the house of the person in question, and the incriminating character of the object was immediately apparent.
A police officer enters a house illegally and notices guns or drugs lying around in plain sight. Can they seize the evidence and arrest someone?
Here, the officer CANNOT seize the objects because he didn’t have the legal right to be in the house in the first place. This means that one of the requirements of the Plain View Doctrine is not met, therefore the rule can’t be applied.
At the Rivas Law Group, We Are Focused on You
Need help with a Plain View Doctrine case? At Law Rivas Group, we offer a wide variety of professional and efficient services that go from preliminary legal advice to litigation and civil law for both corporate and private clients.
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