The Fourth Amendment, your rights and the matter of “plain view”

| Apr 19, 2021 | Criminal justice, Search And Seizure

What is yours is yours, and in addition to your home, that includes items like your vehicle and your suitcase.

You have protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, but there are exceptions to the rules, one of which is called “plain view.”

About the Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects your home and other possessions from unreasonable searches and seizures conducted by law enforcement and other government personnel. More specifically, the Fourth Amendment controls three types of activity: intrusions into privacy; seizures of the person, such as a detention or arrest; and seizures of property.

Illegal search and seizure

As an example of an illegal search and seizure, a law enforcement officer enters your home without a warrant and without your permission. The officer then takes items to use as evidence when charging you with an offense. Even if the officer has a warrant, he or she might search a part of your home that is outside the boundary of the warrant.

In plain view

There are two aspects of the plain view doctrine as identified by the State Supreme Court in Horton v. California. First, an item of interest must be in plain view and its “incriminating character” immediately apparent. Second, the officer interested in the object as evidence against you must lawfully be in a place where the object is in plain view and where he or she has “lawful right of access to the object itself.”

Defense strategy

The Fourth Amendment often has a role to play in a charge of criminal activity. It is never too early to begin building a defense strategy in a matter concerning search and seizure. Your rights and liberties are at stake and you want the best outcome possible for your case.