Plain Feel, Pill Bottles, and Probable Cause: State v. Jackson

A common point of confusion among law enforcement and the public is about the use of unlabeled pill bottles. Is it legal to possess prescription medicine in a container other than the original bottle with the prescription affixed? Does discovering an unlabeled pill bottle justify seizing and searching it to see if it contains contraband? Can a pill bottle be removed from a pocket during a frisk based on plain feel? Does it provide reasonable suspicion or probable cause to search or arrest a suspect? A case decided by the Court of Appeals earlier this month, State v. Jackson, No. COA23-727; ___ N.C. App.  ____; ___ S.E.2d ___ (Mar. 19, 2024), sheds some light on these questions. Read on for the details.

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The Inevitable Discovery Exception to the Exclusionary Rule under the United States Constitution

Two important exceptions to exclusionary rules under the federal constitution were adopted by the United States Supreme Court within a month of each other in 1984: (1) the inevitable discovery exception in Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431 (1984), and (2) the independent source exception in Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796 (1984); see also the later case of Murray v. United States, 487 U.S. 533 (1988). These two exceptions continue to be litigated. This post will discuss the inevitable discovery exception, and my next post will discuss the independent source exception.

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