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Plain View Search
When Does a Law Enforcement Officer Have the Legal Right to Seize Evidence and Arrest Someone Without a Warrant?
The Doctrine of Plain View allows a law enforcement officer to SEIZE evidence of a crime, WITHOUT obtaining a SEARCH WARRANT, when that evidence is in PLAIN SIGHT.
The courts have established a three prong test to determine how law enforcement officers must proceed in situations where there is no warrant but the evidence of criminal behavior is in plain sight:
First, the law enforcement officer must be LAWFULLY present at the place where the evidence can be plainly viewed;
Second, the law enforcement officer must have a lawful right of access the object. (This means that the officer is required to have probable cause to believe the item in question is evidence of a crime or is contraband);
Third, the incriminating character of the object must be immediately apparent. (This means that law enforcement officers may NOT move objects to get a better view of the item in question).
If you have any questions about police having probable cause for a plain view search, please feel free to contact Criminal Defense Attorney Vik Monder at 619-405-0063 or visit San Diego Defense Attorney