mere investigatory detention or Terry stop. As we have stated, the officers reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime was taking or was about to take place rightfully brought them within armslength of the Defendant, a distance that would permit viewing of the Defendant's person and the open area of the vehicle. The Defendant's sudden movement gave rise to a reasonable (and now judicially presumptive) belief that Crespo was armed and dangerous. This gave the officers the go ahead to conduct a pat down in order to insure their safety. This too, created a viewpoint from which the officer could plainly view the baggie of cocaine.
In addressing the focal point of the plain view itself, it is obvious, given the training and experience of the officers, that the viewing officer recognized the white powdery substance as cocaine. It can therefore be said that it was immediately apparent to the viewing officer that he had incriminating evidence before him.
With regard to the aforementioned third prong of the plain view doctrine, that the officer has "a lawful right of access to the object. . ," we note that access, unlike in the Horton case, is not in question. That case involved the seizure of contraband in a home that came about because a search was authorized by a warrant. The seizure however, was authorized by the plain view doctrine. These facts make the case at hand distinguishable.
The rationale of the plain view doctrine is that if contraband is left in open view and is observed by a police officer from a lawful vantage point, there has been no invasion of a legitimate expectation of privacy and thus no "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment--or at least no search independent of the initial intrusion that gave the officers their vantage point. See United States v. Hensley, 469 U.S. 221, 83 L. Ed. 2d 604, 105 S. Ct. 675 (1985); Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 77 L. Ed. 2d 1201, 103 S. Ct. 3469 (1983); Illinois v. Andreas, 463 U.S. 765, 77 L. Ed. 2d 1003, 103 S. Ct. 3319 (1983); Texas v. Brown, 460 U.S. 730, 75 L. Ed. 2d 502, 103 S. Ct. 1535 (1983). The warrantless seizure of contraband that presents itself in this manner is deemed justified by the realization that resort to a neutral magistrate under such circumstances would often be impracticable and would do little to promote the objectives of the Fourth Amendment. See Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 94 L. Ed. 2d 347, 107 S. Ct. 1149 (1987); Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 29 L. Ed. 2d 564, 91 S. Ct. 2022 (1971). Given the facts that the observation of the cocaine took place on the street, the officer had a right to be where the evidence was plainly viewed, and the dissipation of the evidence was highly probable had the officer attempted to procure a warrant, we hold that the taking of the baggie by the officer for field testing was a permissible seizure within the context of a Terry stop.
II. Seizure By A Nurse Under The Direction Of An Officer
In order for an arrest to be legal, it must be sustained by probable cause. See Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 479, 9 L. Ed. 2d 441, 83 S. Ct. 407 (1963). Probable cause to arrest and initiate criminal proceedings exists where the arresting officer has knowledge of facts and circumstances sufficient to permit a prudent person of reasonable caution to believe that the person arrested has committed an offense. Huffaker v. Bucks County Dist. Attorney's Office, 758 F. Supp. 287, 291 (E.D.Pa. 1991) citing Michigan v. DeFillippo, 443 U.S. 31, 37, 61 L. Ed. 2d 343, 99 S. Ct. 2627 (1979). See also United States v. Cruz, 910 F.2d 1072, 1076 (1990); Edwards v. City of Philadelphia, 860 F.2d 568, 571 n.2 (3rd Cir. 1988); Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200, 208 n.9, 60 L. Ed. 2d 824, 99 S. Ct. 2248 (1979). Further, "law enforcement authorities are permitted and expected to draw reasonable inferences based upon their knowledge and experience." Id. quoting United States v. Filiberto, 712 F. Supp. 482, 485 (E.D.Pa. 1989).
In the present case, it is hard for us to believe that upon plain viewing prior to the intended pat down, the officer did not immediately recognize the substance in the plastic baggie located in Crespo's jacket pocket. Nevertheless, the field test taken at the scene proved positive for cocaine. This, in and of itself, constitutes probable cause to arrest. A lawful custodial arrest justifies the infringement of any privacy interest the arrestee may have. United States v. Schecter, 717 F.2d 864, 868 (3rd Cir. 1983) quoting New York v. Belton, 453 U.S. 454, 460, 69 L. Ed. 2d 768, 101 S. Ct. 2860 (1981). See also United States v. Carter, 585 F. Supp. 167, 172 (W.D.Pa. 1984); Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 763, 23 L. Ed. 2d 685, 89 S. Ct. 2034 (1969) (A lawful custodial arrest creates a situation which justifies the contemporaneous search without a warrant of the person arrested and of the immediately surrounding area. Such searches have long been considered valid because of the need to remove any weapons the [the arrestee] might seek to use in order to resist arrest or effect his escape and the need to prevent the concealment or destruction of evidence). Therefore, the search incident to Crespo's arrest was proper.
The Defendant contends that because of the irregular manner and remote place of the search, the evidence seized therefrom should be suppressed. Specifically, Crespo asserts that the additional bag of cocaine seized by an unidentified nurse at the Hazelton General Hospital should be suppressed because the search and seizure was not conducted by a law enforcement officer and it was not conducted at the time or the scene of the arrest.
Let us recall that when the officer retrieved the first bag of cocaine from Defendant Crespo, he observed that her pants were both unbuttoned and unzippered. The government maintains that the reason for transporting Crespo to a hospital was "to permit the search of Crespo's person to be conducted by a female." This, they assert, minimized embarrassment of Crespo and safeguarded the officers against unfounded claims of harassment. In light of the nature of the intrusion, the very real possibility of suit, and the fact that a medical facility is conducive to this type of search for both health and sanitary reasons, we feel this argument is not in the least bit unreasonable.
The fact that the search and seizure did not take place until after Crespo's arrival at the hospital is of no constitutional significance. It is plain that searches and seizures that could be made on the spot at the time of arrest may legally be conducted later when the accused arrives at the place of detention. United States v. Edwards, 415 U.S. 800, 803, 39 L. Ed. 2d 771, 94 S. Ct. 1234 (1974). See also United States v. Thrower, 442 F. Supp. 272, 280-81 (E.D.Pa. 1977). Although the hospital was not the ultimate place of detention, the pertinent case law speaks to the delay in time. It stands to reason that if the search incident to arrest can be carried out at the place of detention as well as at the scene of arrest, then surely it can be carried out somewhere and sometime in between. In absence of an inexplicable detour or excessive delay, we hold that the search of Crespo's person, conducted at the hospital shortly after a valid custodial arrest, at the behest of an officer, did not violate her Fourth Amendment rights. The evidence discovered during the course of that search need not be suppressed.
Based on the reasons stated above, the Defendant's Motion to Suppress the evidence obtained by the officer at the scene of the arrest, but prior to arrest, and the evidence seized by the nurse at the hospital is DENIED. The Clerk of Court is directed to mark the docket sheet accordingly. An appropriate Order is attached.
Richard P. Conaboy
United States District Judge
AND NOW, THIS 20th DAY OF JULY, 1994, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. The Defendant's Motion for Suppression of Evidence (Doc.No. 72) is DENIED.