Exclusionary Rule (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The principle based on federal CONSTITUTIONAL LAW that evidence illegally seized by law enforcement officers in violation of a suspect's right to be free from unreasonable SEARCHES AND SEIZURES cannot be used against the suspect in a criminal prosecution.
The exclusionary rule is designed to exclude evidence obtained in violation of a criminal defendant's FOURTH AMENDMENT rights. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement personnel. If the search of a criminal suspect is unreasonable, the evidence obtained in the search will be excluded from trial.
The exclusionary rule is a court-made rule. This means that it was created not in statutes passed by legislative bodies but rather by the U.S. Supreme Court. The exclusionary rule applies in federal courts by virtue of the Fourth Amendment. The Court has ruled that it applies in state courts although the DUE PROCESS CLAUSE of the FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT.(The Bill of Rightshe first ten amendmentsapplies to actions by the federal government. The Fourteenth Amendment, the Court has held, makes most of the protections in the BILL OF RIGHTS applicable to actions by the states.)
The exclusionary rule has been in...
(The entire section is 2099 words.)
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Exclusionary Rule (Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior)
In legal proceedings, the exclusionary rule prohibits the use of any evidence obtained in contravention of the U.S. Constitution. The rule is frequently invoked when government authorities seize evidence in violation of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures. Evidence may be illegally obtained when government officials do not have a warrant to search an individual's premises or the warrant is defective. Law enforcement officers may also lack sufficient probable cause to arrest a person. In addition, the courts may invoke the exclusionary rule when they find a violation of an individual's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or a violation of a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Courts often refer to evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendment as "tainted" or "the fruit of a poisonous tree."
The U.S. Supreme Court established the exclusionary rule in the early 1900s. It applies to all federal courts through the Fourth Amendment and to all state courts through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Before the rule was created, any evidence was admissible in a criminal trial if the judge found it relevant. It made no difference how the police had obtained it. In Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383, 34 S.Ct. 341, 58 L.Ed. 652 (1914), the Supreme Court barred the use of evidence secured through a warrantless search of a defendant's house by federal agents. However, for almost 50 years the exclusionary rule only applied to federal courts.
The Supreme Court broadened the rule's coverage in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 81 S.Ct. 1684, 6 L.Ed.2d 1081 (1961). It held that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires states to exclude evidence obtained from an unconstitutional search or seizure. The Court has often cited an individual's right to privacy and the deterrence of unreasonable police conduct as the primary reasons for excluding evidence obtained from an unreasonable search and seizure.
A criminal defendant who claims an unreasonable search and seizure is usually allowed to make the claims in a suppression hearing that is conducted before the trial. At this hearing the judge must determine what evidence will be suppressed, or excluded from trial.
A number of exceptions to the exclusionary rule have emerged to reduce the effects of the doctrine, such as a police officer's "good-faith" belief that an otherwise defective warrant is valid, evidence obtained in "hot pursuit," or evidence seized in "plain view" of the law enforcement officer's sight and reach. There are other exceptions to the exclusionary rule. Evidence seized by private parties is not excluded from trial if the search was not at the direction of law enforcement officers. If a criminal defendant testifies in his or her own defense, illegally seized evidence may be used to discredit the defendant's testimony. Illegally seized evidence can also be used in grand jury proceedings and civil proceedings. However, a grand jury cannot use illegally seized evidence if it was obtained in violation of federal wiretapping statutes.
IMPORTANCE IN DRUG CASES AND ENFORCEMENT
The exclusionary rule prohibits the introduction of constitutionally tainted evidence. The effect of the doctrine has often been the exclusion of evidence that might be used to convict a suspected drug trafficker or abuser. Courts have excluded evidence of drug PARAPHERNALIA or supplies illegally seized, admissions obtained by coercion or without notifying the party of the right to remain silent, and evidence obtained in violation of a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel, such as a lineup identification. The Supreme Court has determined that it is preferable to allow a drug trafficker to go free than to permit law enforcement officers to violate a citizen's constitutionally protected rights.
Two recent Supreme Court cases illustrate the polarities in Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule cases. In Minnesota v. Carter, 525 U.S. 83, 119 S.Ct. 469, 142 L.Ed.2d 373(1998), the Court had to balance law enforcement and privacy interests in assessing the reasonableness of a drug search and seizure. The key issue was whether a police officer who looked in an apartment window through a gap in a closed window blind violated the privacy of the drug dealers in the apartment because they had an expectation of privacy that is protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court held that the police officer did not violate the Fourth Amendment because the occupants of the apartment did not have an expectation of privacy. Therefore, the drugs that the police officers saw and later seized did not have to be excluded from evidence.
The outcome was much different in Bond v. U.S., .S. 120 S.Ct. 1462, 146 L.Ed.2d 365(2000). In this case, the Court ruled that police cannot squeeze the luggage of bus passengers to try to find illegal drugs. The U.S. Border patrol routinely squeezed carry-on luggage of bus passengers traveling near the Texas-Mexico border. Border patrol officers discovered a brick of methamphetamine after feeling the defendant's soft-sided bag. The Supreme Court noted that the Fourth Amendment provides that a person's "effects" are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. A traveler's piece of luggage was clearly an "effect" protected by the amendment. It found that a "bus passenger clearly expects that his bag may be handled. He does not expect that other passengers or bus employees will, as a matter of course, feel the bag in an exploratory manner." Because the agent did manipulate the bag, he violated the Fourth Amendment. In addition, the Court ruled that the defendant's expectation of privacy was reasonable. It distinguished prior rulings that defeated exclusionary rule challenges because they were based on visual inspections, not tactile inspections.
(SEE ALSO: Drug Laws: Prosecution of; Seizures of Drugs)
ROBERT T. ANGAROLA
REVISED BY FREDERICK K. GRITTNER