Pennsylvania law discourages warrantless searches and seizures: Pennsylvania Courts have long held that any search or seizure conducted without a warrant is presumed to be unreasonable and, thus, unconstitutional. In cases where a warrantless search occurs, it is the Commonwealth's burden to demonstrate that an exception or excuse to the general warrant requirement is applicable.
One such exception or excuse is known as the "plain view doctrine." In those cases, the police or government agency alleges that the item seized was in plain view. Essentially, the Commonwealth's argument is that a warrant was not required because the item was in plain view, therefore no search occurred. The Commonwealth must prove three elements in order to prevail under the plain view argument: 1. the officer was lawfully present in the place where the plain view allegedly occurred; 2. the item was in plain view; and 3. it was immediately apparent that the item in question was contraband.
Only when the Commonwealth satisfies those three elements can the plain view doctrine be invoked.
If you or a loved one is charged with crimes stemming from a search of you or your belongings, contact the experienced and aggressive attorneys at the Kelly Law Firm for a free consultation.