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Exclusionary Rule Evaluation

Essay by   •  June 6, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,203 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,719 Views

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The legal principle established by the exclusionary rule is entrenched in the United States of America Constitution, these principles relate to the fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Fourth Amendment deals with the right of individuals not to be subjected to illegal searches and seizures. These search and seizures are prohibited law enforcement from conducting them without a search warrant as well as notice to the individual by law enforcement. The Fourteenth Amendment however, deals with an individual's rights to have due process in a trial, in accordance with the laws of the land. All of these principles also relate to the Fifth Amendment as well as parts of the Sixth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment deals with the concept of self incrimination that could be caused by the result of an individual being compelled to confess. The Sixth Amendment relates to an individual possessing the right to legal counsel. With the influence these Amendments have on the law, it is imperative that the evidence gathered with the intent of being used in the prosecution of a defendant be credible. If evidence is gathered and found not to be credible or in violation of the search and seizure laws, the result could be devastating to the prosecution, and the evidence can run the risk of being suppressed by the court.

The major concern of the exclusionary rule is that evidence that has been gathered by law enforcement was done so legally, and the evidence is credible. In the exclusionary rule there are three elements that are associated with the rule: first, some type of evidence has to be gathered. Second, the evidence gathered must have been obtained by a police officer or any other type of law enforcement acting in the role of a police officer. Last, there must be a connection between the evidence obtained and an illegal action that became the cause for having to secure the evidence. The rationale behind the rule was given by the concept of "Unclean hands." This concept meant that not all evidence produced in court is collected legally and is good for use in prosecution (Gonzalez, 1991). Therefore, courts being the highest symbol of justice could not use illegally tainted evidence because this would taint their process with illegality too. Thus they had to avoid the use of illegally acquired evidence. The purpose behind the principle of the exclusionary rule is the deterrence of police misconduct. This means that if a law enforcement officer acquired evidence from any person illegally and without due process that evidence would be suppressed in the federal court. Especially if it is deemed the process of acquisition went against the Fourth Amendment (Gonzalez, 1991).

There could be times when exceptions to the rule occur even if the situation of evidence collection meets the tree conditions that may lead to its disqualification. The first exception was created in a Supreme Court case of Colon versus the United States in 1984 and is called the independent source doctrine. This exception occurs when one initially gathers evidence illegally without a warrant but later goes back with a warrant to gather the same evidence. In such cases the evidence can be considered legal ('Fourth Amendment', 2010). The second exception was added as a result of the Nix versus Williams's case of 1984 and is called the inevitable discovery doctrine. The exception occurs when evidence is seized physically in an illegal manner but there is substantial proof that it would have been hypothetically found by a later search without the use of illegal means like force( 'Fourth Amendment', 2010). The third exception came about as a result of a couple of Supreme

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