The most common exceptions include:
No Search: There is no search when an officer “observe(s) criminal activity with the naked eye from a vantage point accessible to the general public.” (United States v. Garcia (9th Cir. 367 1993) 997 F.2 1273, 1279; People v. Ortiz (1994) 32 Cal.App.4th 286, 291.)
A plain sight observation of contraband or other evidence made while the officer is in a place or a position he or she has a lawful right to be does not involve any constitutional issues. (People v. Block (1971) 6 Cal.3rd 239, 243; North v. Superior Court (1972) 8 Cal.3 301, 306.)
No Expectation of Privacy: There is no expectation of privacy in anything voluntarily exposed to public view. (People v. Benedict (1969) 2 Cal.App.4th 400.) “What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection.” (Katz v. United States (1967) 389 U.S. 347, 351 [19 L.Ed.2nd 576, 582.)
The “Plain Sight Observation” vs. the Right To Enter a Residence: When observing contraband within a residence from the outside, a warrantless entry into those premises to seize the contraband would not be justified absent exigent circumstances. (Horton v. California (1990 496 U.S. 128, 137, fn. 7 [110 L.Ed.2nd 112, 123]; United States v. Murphy (9th Cir. 2008) 516 F.3rd 1117, 1121.) A search warrant authorizing the entry of the residence must first be obtained.
Exigent Circumstances: The presence of exigent circumstances will excuse the lack of a warrant. “Exigent Circumstances” are present, as a general rule, whenever there is no reasonable opportunity for the police officers to stop and take the time to get a search warrant. (See United States v. Ventresca (1965) 380 U.S. 102, 107 [13 L.Ed.2nd 684, 688].)
There are additional exceptions, such as crossing the border, DUI test, being on probation, however the above are just a few to start with.
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