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Home  >  Articles  >  The Plain View Doctrine

The Plain View Doctrine

Normally, police are required to secure a warrant before they are allowed to take a piece of property as evidence in a criminal case. However, there is a significant exemption to this Constitutional rule in cases where the property qualifies under what is known as the plain view doctrine. According to this legal rule, items in unobstructed sight of a police officer may be seized as evidence for a criminal trial without a warrant.

What Counts under the Plain View Doctrine?

The plain view doctrine is ultimately limited by what a police officer can see without actually searching an area. If something isn’t in immediate visual range of the police officer, such as behind a closed door or away from a window, it may be considered outside the plain view doctrine. This legal rule permits property seizure for evidence in the following cases:

  • If property is being openly carried by an individual
  • If property is immediately visible or visible through a window
  • If contraband being stored or grown in an open, unobstructed area

In these situations, the police don’t require a warrant to seize this property for evidence. However, in cases where the plain view doctrine doesn’t apply and no other exemptions to warrant requirements apply, any evidence illegally seized by the police may be stricken from a criminal case.

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If you’ve been charged with a crime, you may be facing a harsh criminal sentence that can drastically affect your life. However, you may be able to fight these charges or work towards a plea bargain that substantially reduces your penalties. To learn more about how we can help you push towards these goals, contact lawyer James Powderly today by calling 508-343-0676.