The Fourth Amendment contains crystallized principles to guard against State encroachment on the privacy of its citizens. (Romero, 1988) This amendment, however, is subject to exceptions, two of which are the plain view doctrine and the open fields doctrine.
Brown1 established the three pronged test to determine whether or not the plain view doctrine is applicable, and this will impact on the admissibility in court of the evidence itself. To quote from the said case:
"A plurality of the Supreme Court has ruled that the plain view doctrine is subject to the limitation that (1) a law enforcement officer [emphasis added] must lawfully make an initial intrusion or otherwise properly be in a position from which he can view a particular area, (2) the discovery of evidence in plain view must be inadvertent, and (3) it must be immediately apparent to the police that they have evidence before them.
Applying these elements to the case at bar, the two possible incidents where the "plain view" can be applied are first, the incident with the handbag, and second, the incident regarding the baggies on top of the patio table. In both incidents, the intrusion was lawful - chasing a thief who had stolen a handbag and breaking up a fight are functions of an officer in the performance of his duties. In the handbag incident, the illegality of the marijuana was immediately apparent as the policemen, and certainly anyone in the know, could clearly recognize the prohibited substance. ...
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