Miami Juvenile Obtains a Reversal from the Appellate Court Under the “Plain View” Doctrine

In Aventura, Florida, located in Miami-Dade County, a juvenile was apprehended at 21150 Point Place for possession of drug paraphernalia. While he and his girlfriend were asleep on the floor, the police officer saw a multicolored pipe sticking out of his backpack.  The officer approached the couple and picked up the pipe. As soon as the officer walked up to the juvenile, the juvenile stated that the pipe was his.

The Miami criminal defense attorney argued that the police failed to present sufficient evidence that they knew the pipe was drug related. Instead, they argued that there were legitimate non drug related reasons to possess a pipe and that the police officer jumped to a conclusion.

The court explained the law stating: “[t]he plain view doctrine requires that three elements be satisfied: (1) the police officer is in a place where he has a lawful right to be; (2) in the course of his presence the officer inadvertently comes upon an object which is openly visible; and (3) it is immediately apparent to the officer that the object constitutes evidence of a crime.”

The court agreed with the defense lawyer and said that viewing a pipe by itself is not sufficient reason to search a person or make an arrest. It is not evidence of a crime. Accordingly, the conviction was reversed, the evidence and the arrest will be suppressed on remand and the juvenile charges will have to be dropped.