The Fourth Amendment and the Plain View Doctrine
September 15, 2023
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The Fourth Amendment and the Plain View Doctrine

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from unreasonable search and seizure activities. In addition, the Supreme Court has issued a ruling about the “plain view doctrine.” What is this and what does it mean to you?

First Things First

An example of unreasonable search and seizure is when a law enforcement officer enters a home without the owner’s permission. The officer does not have a warrant or a court-ordered warrant exception, and yet he confiscates some drugs that are sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen. He intends to charge the homeowners with a criminal offense and will use the drugs as evidence.

Foiled by the Plain View Doctrine

As defined by the Supreme Court, the plain view doctrine would prompt a different outcome. In walking past the home, the policeman sees the drugs, which is in plain view in the kitchen window. However, by entering the home without your permission and seizing the drugs, the officer realizes he would be in violation of the plain view doctrine and thus the homeowner’s Fourth Amendment rights. According to the Supreme Court, this doctrine contains two elements. First, the item—in this case, the drugs—must be in plain view and “its incriminating character must also be immediately apparent.” Second, the officer must possess “lawful right of access” to the item itself.

How the Fourth Amendment Works

The Fourth Amendment speaks to three kinds of activity: searches, or invasions of privacy; seizures of the person, meaning arrests or detentions; and seizures of property, such as the drugs in the example. The lawfulness of the search, arrest or detention may be of more importance than the act of seizing the property. If you face charges as the result of unreasonable search and seizure activities, the plain view doctrine could surface. The court could find there was a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights and dismiss the charges.

Discuss Your Case with a Lebanon TN Lawyer

If you have questions about the Fourth Amendment or the Plain View Doctrine, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Wilson County legal team of Hagar and Phillips. Send a Contact Form, or call us today.

The information provided on this blog is meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no representations or warranties of any kind regarding the completeness, accuracy, reliability, or suitability of the blog content. Any reliance on this information is at your own risk. This blog may discuss legal topics, but for advice specific to your situation, consult a qualified attorney. We do not assume responsibility for actions taken based on the information herein. We are not liable for any losses or damages resulting from the use of this blog. Links to other websites are not endorsements, and technical issues may affect blog availability. By using this blog, you agree to this disclaimer. Hagar Phillips Attorneys At Law
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