Plain View Doctrine


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Plain View Doctrine

In the context of searches and seizures, the principle that provides that objects perceptible by an officer who is rightfully in a position to observe them can be seized without a Search Warrant and are admissible as evidence.

The U.S. Supreme Court has developed and refined the plain view doctrine over time. In Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 91 S.Ct. 2022, 29 L.Ed.2d 564 (1971), the Court ruled that the seizure of two automobiles in plain view during the arrest of the defendant, along with later findings of gunpowder, did not violate the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights (protection against unreasonable Search and Seizure).

The Court also has drawn distinctions between searches and seizures in applying the plain view doctrine. In Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 197 S.Ct. 1149, 94 L.Ed.2d 347 (1987), the Court held that no seizure occurred when a police officer called to the scene of a shooting incident recorded serial numbers of stereo equipment he observed in plain view, and which he believed had been stolen. Nevertheless, the officer's actions in moving the equipment to find the serial numbers constituted a search; the officer had a "reasonable suspicion" that the equipment had been stolen, but it was not supported by Probable Cause.

plain view doctrine

n. the rule that a law enforcement officer may make a search and seizure without obtaining a search warrant if evidence of criminal activity or the product of a crime can be seen without entry or search. Example: a policeman stops a motorist for a minor traffic violation and can see in the car a pistol or a marijuana plant on the back seat, giving him "reasonable cause" to enter the vehicle to make a search. (See: search warrant, search and seizure)

References in periodicals archive ?
arrest, because the plain view doctrine applies to digital searches,
While the plain view doctrine on its own typically only allows an officer to seize evidence and not perform a general exploratory search (42) the Supreme Court has also recognized a distinct exception to the warrant requirement to search automobiles when there is probable cause to believe that a vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime.
The plain view doctrine (65) provides that "[law enforcement officials] are acting within the scope of their authority, and .
Part III will briefly revisit the history of the plain view doctrine and evaluate its applicability to digital searches.
While in law school, he authored "Inadvertence Requirement of the Plain View Doctrine," for the Southwestern Law Review.
THE FUTURE OF THE PLAIN VIEW DOCTRINE FOR DIGITAL EVIDENCE
While officers are performing the tasks that are considered reasonable under the emergency exception, any items that they have probable cause to believe constitute evidence of a crime may be seized under the plain view doctrine.
The court determined the government should "forswear reliance on the plain view doctrine or any similar doctrine" regarding seizure of data requiring segregation, and issued five guidelines magistrate judges must follow when the government seeks a warrant regarding examination of electronic media.
While the plain view doctrine on its own typically only allows an officer to seize evidence and not perform a general exploratory search, (42) the Supreme Court has also recognized a distinct exception to the warrant requirement to search automobiles when there is probable cause to believe that a vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime.
Restrict or Eliminate the Plain View Doctrine in Digital
Although the Ninth Circuit did not rule on the question of whether the plain view doctrine justified the government's seizure of the intermingled files (as noted above, the court found it did not have to address the question), the issue was extensively briefed and argued by the government and is thus an important one to resolve for future computer searches.
Totally separate from the Terry frisk rationale, officers may have an independent justification to seize objects under a variation of the Plain View Doctrine,(14) which is often referred to as the "plain feel" doctrine when applied to tactile searches.