Plain View/ Open Fields Case Study

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Roel R. Garcia
Plain View / Open Fields Case Study
Axia College University of Phoenix
Scott Smith
September 14, 2008

Today a high percentage of the arrests done by law enforcement are from seized evidence that was in plain view and does not come under the Fourth Amendment. The plain view doctrine states that items that are within the sight of a police officer who is legally in a place from which the view is made may properly be seized without a warrant as long as such items are immediately recognizable as subject to seizure (Criminal Procedure: Law and Practice 2004). In other instances police can also seize evidence that is in open fields. The open fields doctrine holds that items in open fields are not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures, so they can properly be taken by an officer without a warrant or probable cause (Criminal Procedure: Law and Practice 2004). The plain view doctrine has three requirements that must be met before the evidence can be introduce as evidence. These three requirements are that the officer has to be aware of the item through use of sight, must be legally in the place from which the evidence is seen, and it must be immediately apparent that the evidence is subject to seizure. Any object falling under plain view of a police officer and who has a right to be in a position to have that view of the item it can be seized and introduce as evidence (Harris v. United States, 390 U.S. 234 [1968]). The scenario states that during routine patrol two police officers witnessed a man running and swinging a purse in his right hand. A woman was running and yelling behind this man to stop and return the purse back to her. Both officers then gave chase of the suspect and led them to a public alley used for trash collection between the houses. The man continued running and dropped the purse. The officers then lost sight of the suspect as he turned into another alley to...
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