Exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule



Exceptions to the ExclusionaryRule

Exceptions to the ExclusionaryRule

Accordingto Siegel (2010),when the authorities violate a defendant’s Constitutional rights,the exclusionary rule may be applicable. The exclusionary rule is ajudicial mandate that obliterates the admission of any evidence attrial, which the authorities acquire through illegal means.Therefore, there are essential elements crucial for the applicationof the exclusionary rule. The first feature refers to an unlawfulaction by an agent of the police or a police officer. The secondaspect dictates that such an officer must secure and seize theevidence. Similarly, there must be a slight relationship between theevidence and the illegal action. However, the exclusionary rule isnot applicable in actions concerning agency rules, civil proceedings,or grand juries. Moreover, in order for the exclusionary rules to beapplicable, the search in question must violate the state or federalconstitution.

Exceptions to the General Rule

May (2008) argues that eventhough the police might have violated the defendant’sconstitutional rights through an illegal search and seized theevidence, such evidence might still be admissible in the Court oflaw. The general rule “fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine,” issuch that any evidence emanating from an unlawful search, even at alater date, is not admissible as evidence in a trial.

The general rule has an exceptionwhere evidence comes from a source independent from the illegality.For example, after conducting two different searches, and theyproduce the same evidence. Whereas the initial search is illegal,the second one is lawful and admissible. It is in reference to asituation where the police had an independent intelligence of theevidence apart from the outcome of the illegal search. In suchcircumstances, the doctrine does not exclude the evidence and is,therefore, admissible.

Anotherexception to the exclusionary rule is when the police acted in goodfaith. It refers to a reasonable, honest belief without ill-intent ormalice and lack of intention to defraud. The idea of good faithcommands a dominant presence in most areas of law. Even though, it isnot tangible, and the court can determine good faith on the totalityof circumstances but not some fast and hard rule. For example, wherea police officer receives a search warrant and acts upon it toprocure evidence, but the issuance of such warrant had some error. Inother words, when the police conduct a search in an innocent beliefthat it is a lawful search, the evidence they discover is admissible.For example, in the case UnitedStates v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984),the court explained the concept (May2008).The court established that in a situation where the officer believesthat a search warrant is not necessary, or carries out a search underthe pretext the warrant is valid, the is acting in good faith.However, if the officer is aware or ought to have known the warrantwas defective, the exception of good faith does not apply.

Similarly, there is an exceptionwhere the discovery of such evidence was “inevitable” such maybe admissible since the unlawful search did not lead to the discoveryof the evidence. Nevertheless, the word “inevitable” carries muchweight. Therefore, for the evidence under this exception to be avalid evidence, the court must establish that the whether or not thepolice conducted the unlawful act, they would have discovered itthrough other means.


May, D. A. (2008). Reasonableuse of force by police: Seizures, firearms, and high-speed chases.New York: P. Lang.

Siegel, L. J. (2010).Introduction tocriminal justice.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.