What Is Plain Feel Doctrine ?
The plain feel doctrine set forth in Minnesota v. Dickerson 508 U.S. 366 (113 SCt 2130, 124 LE2d 334) (1993) authorized the officer to seize the jewelry after feeling it during the pat-down search.
In Dickerson, the United States Supreme Court approved the "plain feel" corollary to the "plain view" doctrine, under which,"if police are lawfully in a position from which they view an object, if its incriminating character is immediately apparent, and if the officers have a lawful right of access to the object, they may seize it without a warrant." the Dickerson court extended the plain view doctrine to items felt on a suspect during a Terry pat-down search, reasoning:
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 pursuant to Terry; if the object is contraband, its warrantless seizure would be justified by the same practical considerations that inhere in the plain-view context. Dickerson, supra at 375-376.