Plain Touch Doctrine

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Overview

The plain touch doctrine is a legal principle that allows a police officer to seize any contraband that the officer can immediately and clearly identify by touch while conducting a legal pat-down search. In Minnesota v. Dickerson (1993), the Supreme Court held: “If a police officer lawfully pats down a suspect’s outer clothing and feels an object whose contour or mass makes its identity immediately apparent, there has been no invasion of the suspect’s privacy beyond that already authorized by the officer’s search for weapons; if the object is contraband, its warrantless seizure would be justified by the same practical considerations that inhere in the plain-view context.”

Instructions

For your assignment, prepare a three-page training memo, citing a minimum of two academically verified sources, to be distributed to rookie officers in your department during their training regarding proper criminal procedure with respect to the plain touch doctrine.

In your memo:

  • Articulate legally compliant procedural steps for a criminal justice practitioner in a situation involving the plain touch doctrine.
  • Explain classification of the plain touch doctrine as reasonable or unreasonable for a criminal justice professional.
  • Examine whether the plain touch doctrine is a threat to 4th Amendment protections.
  • Describe the implications of officers being able to manipulate objects that can be readily felt.

Be sure to review the Plain Touch Doctrine Scoring Guide to ensure you understand the criteria for this assignment.

Requirements

Your memo should meet the following requirements:

  • Written communication: Must be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
  • References: A minimum of two references.
  • APA format: Format resources and citations as per current APA style and formatting guidelines.
  • Length of memo: Three pages, not including the title page and the references page.
  • Font and font size: Times New Roman, 12 point.

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