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For a case to have a probable cause there must be facts forcing the police interfere with ones liberty (Emanuel 2009). Therefore, I had a probable cause to seize cocaine from a suspect’s car because there were a number of facts behind my search. First, I had recognized the area as a high crime zone after the occurrences of several burglaries hence I had to suspect any idlers in the area. Secondly, the passenger who was leaning in between the seats made me more suspicious as I feared he might have been kidnapped or even hiding potential exhibit.
Things that are in the plain view of a police officer who has the right to view them can be seized as evidence. Under the plain view doctrine the US Supreme Court allows the police to conduct a search without necessarily obtaining a warrant if the cause of the search is obvious. As Siegel explains;
The 1986 case of New York v. class illustrates the plain view doctrine. A police officer stopped a car for a traffic violation. Wishing to check the vehicle identification number on the dash board, he noticed a gun and seized it. The US Supreme Court upheld the seizure of the gun as legal because the police officer had the right to check the VIN. (Siegel 2009, p. 334)
Likewise, in my case the plain view doctrine applies because patrol involves ensuring everything is in order in the entire area under my surveillance. Therefore, I had the right to enquire what those idlers were doing in front of a closed shop, and it was in this process that I discovered the cocaine, and seized it.
The driver has full responsibility over the possession of the seized cocaine unless proven otherwise by a court of law. The driver is supposed to be aware of what he or she is ferrying, and ignorance can not be an excuse to this possession. In this case, he remains the owner of the drugs unless somebody else in the vehicle is proven to have brought the cocaine on board.
The concept of exigent circumstances applies when law enforcement officers have to enter a given premises without necessarily obtaining a search warrant or without the owner allowing them in after knocking the door. This happens in emergence cases where the police have a strong feeling that a suspect might escape, evidence might be destroyed, civilians are in danger or fellow police officers are in danger. On the other hand, obtaining a search warrant is beneficial to the police, and the premises owners. The police officer has to prove before a magistrate or a judge the probable cause for the search, and once he or she presents the warrant to the premise’s owner the officer will most likely encounter minimal objection. When given this warrant the person to be searched does not feel as if his or her liberty is violated.
The frisk leading to seizure of cocaine is constitutionally controlled under the plain view doctrine. This allows officers to conduct a search if according to their experience strongly belief that there is a probable cause to do so (Hall 2009). In my experience I knew the area was prone to crime, and hence I had to conduct the frisk.