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NCJ Number: 134826 Find in a Library
Title: Criminal Procedure -- Pennsylvania Circumvents the Plain View Doctrine in a Warrantless Search -- Commonwealth v. Smith, 524 Pa. 72, 569 A.2d 337 (1990)
Journal: Temple Law Review  Volume:64  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1991)  Pages:251-265
Author(s): J E Baylinson
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 15
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In Commonwealth v. Smith, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a police officer's seizure of a gun from the pocket of a coat accidentally knocked to the floor during a warrantless search was not prohibited by the fourth amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The court applied the stop and frisk doctrine to the case, maintaining that the police officer acted on a reasonable inference that a weapon was present.
Abstract: The author contends that the court, by failing to apply the probable cause standard required under the plain view exception to the fourth amendment, effectively ignored the policy justifications supporting the stop and frisk doctrine, undermined the precedent supporting the plain view doctrine, and circumvented the prohibition against illegal searches and seizures. The plain view doctrine, which is based on the need to preserve evidence during warrantless searches, requires immediate identification of the seized item as evidence, probable cause that the item discovered is evidence, and prior valid grounds for the police intrusion. By blurring the distinction between the plain view and the stop and frisk doctrines, the court has enabled other courts to circumvent the plain view doctrine's limiting requirements and to apply a less restrictive standard for seizing evidence without a warrant. 134 notes
Main Term(s): Probable cause; Warrantless search
Index Term(s): Pennsylvania; State supreme courts; Stop and frisk
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