Principle of Plain View

The principle of plain view has changed over time. In the case of Harris v. United States, the Court declared the evidence taken as a result of opening the door of a car which is believed to be used by the offender (390 U. S. 234). In this case the plain view doctrine was used upon a card which was plainly viewed when the police officer opened the door of a car which was searched without a valid warrant. The rule, then, is relaxed because the mere opening of the car’s door without a warrant is not considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The plain view doctrine, however, developed in the case of Coolidge v. New Hampshire (403 U. S. 469). In this case, the court stressed the requirement of a valid warrant which is issued by a “neutral and impartial magistrate” (403 U. S. 469). The warrant having issued by the Attorney General made the search warrant invalid. Since the warrant was invalid, the incidental seizure of evidences in plain view was also declared invalid. In here, the court established the condition of the plain view doctrine.

In order that evidences taken in plain view be acceptable in court, it must be taken inadvertently and the officer seizing it should have a lawful right to be in the place being searched (403 U. S. 469). However, the principle set in the Coolidge case was changed in the case of Horton v. California (496 U. S. 128). In this case, the warrant did not mention the search of the weapon. However, the police officer searched beyond on his belief that he might see weapons.

Fortunately, the police found a weapon that led to the conviction of Horton. The court held that the seizure of the weapon did not violate the Fourth Amendment because the condition of plain view does not necessarily be inadvertent as established in the case of Coolidge. It was further stressed that inadvertence of the plain view is not an essential condition of plain view doctrine. Hence, the evidence was accepted as evidence in court.

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