Plain View Doctrine

Also found in: Wikipedia.

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 ?
Another possible method of limiting the plain view doctrine is for
10) However, the plain view doctrine is a separate seizure doctrine, not an exception to the search warrant requirement and, therefore, viewing one document that may be used as evidence of a crime does not necessarily permit the search or seizure of the entire computer.
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.
Although most jurisdictions would disagree with Taylor,(17) a significant number of jurisdictions have either refused to accept a plain smell corollary to the plain view doctrine,(18) or have given ambiguous or contradictory rulings on the issue.
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.
issue of how to interpret the plain view doctrine for digital searches.
10) The plain view doctrine in general is well settled and uncontroversial, but its effect on the candor of police requests for consent to search has not previously been examined.
The second section addresses specific exceptions to the Fourth Amendment carved out by the Court, including the doctrines of search incident to arrest,(36) the Terry stop and frisk doctrine,(37) the plain view doctrine,(38) and the plain feel doctrine;(39) the Court's strange discussion of containers in relationship to these doctrines;(40) and the Court's creation of an exclusionary rule.
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.
Analogizing to the plain view doctrine developed in Coolidge v.