Plain View Doctrine

Definition - What does Plain View Doctrine mean?

The plain view doctrine is a law that allows for a law enforcement officer to enter private premises for the purpose of a search or seizure if they can see that there are illegal objects inside the premises. The prohibited items should be in plain sight, such as through an open window.

Contraband that exists in plain view creates the reasonable suspicion that is needed by law enforcement when they undertake a search and possible seizure of the goods in question.

Examples of illegal items that can be clearly seen include drugs and stolen goods.

Justipedia explains Plain View Doctrine

Under normal circumstances, law enforcement officers would need a pre-approved reason for any search to take place. Using the plain view doctrine, law enforcement can act upon imminent threats to the public, such as stopping drugs from being passed along by seizing them when they are seen.

Any person who associated with the prohibited items at the time will likely be charged with the crime of possession.

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