When you are a criminal defense attorney in Louisiana, many cases that you handle will involve evidence seized by the police or other members of law enforcement. Thus, a critical question that must be determined in those cases is whether a client’s rights have been violated due to the search for, or the seizure of, that evidence. After all, this is the United States of America, and in the United States, every citizen enjoys a Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
However, the Fourth Amendment right is not absolute, and every rule has exceptions. With that said, let’s talk about the Plain View Doctrine.
The Plain View Doctrine is an exception to the 4th amendment warrant requirement. It allows a police officer or other government agent to seize evidence that is observed in plain view during a lawful observation. Notably, for the Plain View doctrine to apply, the officer or government agent must:
It would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment for a seizure of evidence to take place if any one of the above factors is not met. As a result, any evidence that was illegally obtained is likely impermissible.
For instance, if the officer was not lawfully present, the rule does not apply. Likewise, if the officer did not have a lawful right to access the evidence, the rule does not apply. Finally, when the evidence was not immediately identifiable as evidence of a crime, the rule does not apply.
Additionally, the seizing officer or agent must have probable cause for seizure of the evidence based on the plain view and cannot conduct an additional warrantless search of the potential evidence, information, or location. If the seizing officer performed some additional warrantless search and/or intrusion, the plain view doctrine likely does not apply, and the seizure of any evidence may have violated your rights. Upon establishing that your rights were violated, the evidence should not be allowed to be used against you.
Although this may seem straightforward, many questions may arise in a criminal case surrounding the legality of evidence obtained by searches and seizures. Therefore, if you have a case where evidence is alleged to have been in plain view, it is incredibly important to hire an attorney who is experienced with handling criminal cases and is well versed in issues that involve the seizure of items such as drugs, drug paraphernalia, firearms, ammunition, burglary tools, and more.
Call a Louisiana Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The Law Offices of Philip B. Adams offers an experienced Louisiana criminal defense lawyer who has handled many cases dealing with the Fourth Amendment and violations thereof. No matter the issue, we are here to fight for your rights and help you through every step of the process. We are located in Shreveport, Louisiana, and we represent clients throughout the state of Louisiana.
If you want to learn more about our firm, you are welcome to give us a call at 318-230-7199 to set up a consultation. Also, do not hesitate to review our blog for more posts regarding criminal defense and constitutional issues.