In a recent case involving a New York gun crime, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his conviction of attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. In the appeal, the defendant argued that the officer who found the weapon in question had no right to search his private vehicle, and the trial court should have suppressed the incriminating evidence. Disagreeing with the defendant and discussing the plain view doctrine, the court denied the appeal.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, a police officer was patrolling one evening when he came across a parked car on the highway. The officer immediately saw an open bottle of tequila in the car and smelled alcohol coming from the general vicinity of the car. Because New York law prohibits possession of open containers on public highways, the officer opened the car to investigate the situation. The Court decided that the officer had the legal right to do this since it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in the car.
Not only did the officer confirm what he suspected – that the bottle indeed was full of tequila – but he also found an open backpack in the car on the passenger’s side floorboard. Inside the backpack the police officer found a pistol magazine. The officer arrested and charged the defendant with attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.