The Case against a Plain Feel Exception to the Warrant Requirement

David L. Haselkorn
1987 The University of Chicago Law Review  
Recently several courts have applied a new exception to the requirement that a search be authorized by a warrant in order to be reasonable under the fourth amendment. Referred to here as the "plain feel" exception, and modeled after the widely recognized "plain view" doctrine, this newly created exception to the warrant requirement has thwarted criminal defendants' attempts to suppress evidence on the ground that it is the product of an illegal search and seizure. 1 The exception essentially
more » ... vides that where officers feel an object in the course of legitimate police conduct, and this provides probable cause for a further search or seizure, the further intrusion need not be authorized by a warrant. This comment examines the relationship between the plain view exception and the nascent plain feel exception. 2 Analyzing the arguments for and against this extension of the plain view doctrine, this comment concludes that the plain feel exception conflicts with well-established fourth amendment principles. Part I traces the development of the plain feel exception. Part II critically examines the rationales for plain view and finds that they fail to provide a satisfactory basis for a plain feel exception. Finally, part III points out several contexts in which such an exception would flout current Supreme Court doctrine by expanding the carefully limited extant exceptions to the fourth amendment's warrant and probable cause requirements.
doi:10.2307/1599803 fatcat:3bcfvrdybnfklml2vgomemzgta