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PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us in person, via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.

Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C.
Available 24/7 – Free Initial Consultation
720-407-2582
Covid-19 Statement

PLEASE NOTE: To protect your safety in response to the threats of COVID-19, we are offering our clients the ability to meet with us in person, via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.

Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C.
A Proven Criminal Defense Team

Was that evidence in plain sight?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Law enforcement has broad leeway during a traffic stop to determine probable cause or secure a piece of evidence. Generally speaking, the officer can seize anything in plain view, whether the interview takes place in a vehicle, a home or even a place of employment. The prosecution may then use that evidence to file charges.

The “plain view doctrine” is a notable exception to the citizens’ protections from unreasonable (i.e., without a warrant) search and seizure as protected by the Fourth Amendment. Officers can also “exigent circumstances,” which enable them to enter private property if they believe suspects will destroy evidence or someone is in imminent danger.

Valid examples of plain-view seizure

There are three critical requirements for the legal application of plain view exception:

  • Law enforcement has the right to be at the location where they see the evidence.
  • The occupant invites officers onto private property, where the officer then sees incriminating evidence.
  • The officer has a reasonable suspicion that the spotted evidence is connected to a crime or illegal.

These are key examples of why inviting officers into private property is always risky, even if they “just have a few questions.”

Dismissing the seized evidence

When evidence is “found in plain sight,” it is crucial to determine whether the evidence was truly legally obtained. Those facing criminal charges can discuss the details of the encounter and arrest with an experienced criminal law attorney who practices here in Colorado. They understand the fine points of plain view doctrine and can fight instances where officers overstep their legal boundaries and violate the client’s rights.

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