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Horton v. California

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 496 U.S. 128, 110 S. Ct. 2301, 110 L. Ed. 2d 112 (1990)

Brief Fact Summary. A police officer initiated a warranted search of a robbery suspect’s home. The warrant specified only the proceeds of the robbery, and not the weapons, even though a description of the weapons was available.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Inadvertence “is not a necessary condition” to plain view seizures. As long as a “police officer . . . had a prior justification for an intrusion in the course of which he came . . .across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused” and so long as the scope of the search is not “enlarged in the slightest,” it is constitutional.


Facts. A police sergeant investigating a robbery had a warrant to search petitioner Hor-ton’s home. The warrant issued specified a search for the proceeds of the robbery, spe-cifically, three rings. However, while weapons had been described in the police report, the warrant did not include them. The sergeant entered the petitioner’s home. He did not find the three rings, but he did find weapons in plain view and seized them.

Issue. “[W]hether the warrantless seizure of evidence of crime in plain view is prohibited by the Fourth Amendment if the discovery of the evidence was not inadvertent.”

Content Type: Brief


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