The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Fahey, reversing the Appellate Division, determined the plain view exception to the warrant requirement did not apply and defendant’s suppression motion should have been granted. Defendant walked in to a hospital with a gun shot wound and the police were notified. When the police officer arrived, defendant’s clothes were in a clear plastic bag on the floor. The officer examined the clothes and concluded defendant had shot himself with a gun which had been in his waistband. The defendant was convicted of criminal possession of a weapon. The Court of Appeals concluded one of the conditions of the plain-view warrant-exception had not been met by the evidence in the record, i.e., there was no showing the incriminating nature of the clothes was immediately apparent to the officer:
“Under the plain view doctrine, if the sight of an object gives the police probable cause to believe that it is the instrumentality of a crime, the object may be seized without a warrant if three conditions are met: (1) the police are lawfully in the position from which the object is viewed; (2) the police have lawful access to the object; and (3) the object’s incriminating nature is immediately apparent” … .
Against this backdrop we conclude that the hearing court erred in denying defendant’s motion to suppress the clothes seized by police. There was evidence adduced at the suppression hearing that the officer who seized the clothes knew defendant to have been shot, and that defendant awaited treatment at the hospital while dressed in clothes different from those he wore at the time of the shooting. More important, however, is what the evidence presented at the suppression hearing does not establish. That evidence does not show that, before the seizure, the testifying officer knew that entry and exit wounds were located on an area of defendant’s body that would have been covered by the clothes defendant wore at the time of the shooting. Similarly, the record of that proceeding contains no other indicium that could have given rise to a reasonable belief that the shooting had affected defendant’s clothes. To that end, there is no record support for the lower courts’ conclusion that the investigating officer had probable cause to believe that defendant’s clothes were the instrumentality of a crime … . People v Sanders, 2016 NY Slip Op 01255, CtApp 2-23-16
CRIMINAL LAW (PLAIN VIEW EXCEPTION TO THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT DID NOT APPLY)/SUPPRESSION (PLAIN VIEW EXCEPTION TO THE WARRANT REQUIREDMENT DID NOT APPLY)/PLAIN VIEW (EXCEPTION TO THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT DID NOT APPLY)/SEARCHES AND SEIZURES (PLAIN VIEW EXCEPTION TO THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT DID NOT APPLY)