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Unlawful search and seizure and the exclusionary rule

Unlawful search and seizure and the exclusionary rule

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

When law enforcement conducts a search, seizes evidence or makes an arrest, a legal process must be followed. Moreover, certain factors or standards must be met to move forward with any of these processes. Thus, when an individual is placed under arrest based on evidence collected during a search, it is important to question these processes and determine if any errors or missteps occurred.

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution asserts that one has the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. When a defendant claims that an unlawful search or seizure occurred and a violation is found, the exclusion of evidence is the likely remedy.

Exclusionary rule

The basis of the exclusionary rule is that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated. Specifically, their Fourth Amendment rights were violated due to an unlawful search and seizure. Due to this violation, the evidence gathered through the illegal search and seizure should be excluded from the case.

It should be noted that the exclusionary rule is not black and white, and it has a long history of being treated differently at all court levels. Thus, it is important to understand if it is applicable, and if so, whether there are any exceptions to the rule.

Exceptions to the exclusionary rule

With regards to exceptions to the exclusionary rule, there are three main exceptions to consider if you believe this rule is relevant to your defense. The first is a search that is incident to a lawful arrest. This means that law enforcement made a lawful arrest, allowing them to the search, without a warrant, the person and the immediate area around the person that could be reasonably in their control.

The second exception is when evidence is discovered in plain view. This means that a visual of the evidence occurred during the course of their duties. For example, during a traffic stop, an officer could seize drugs if they can see it when looking into the vehicle during the stop. The final exception is when there is consent. This means that the person voluntarily consented to the search and a warrant is not needed for law enforcement to conduct the search.

The exclusionary rule is important for two reasons. First, it ensures that the rights of the defendant are upheld. And second, it deters police misconduct and provides a remedy if a violation of their rights occurred. Criminal defenses can be complex and overwhelming, making it important that you understand your defense options and whether the exclusionary rule is relevant to your case.