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Exclusionary Rule Questions

What is a Exclusionary Rule?

A exclusionary rule is a legal principle in the United States, which says that evidence that is illegally obtained by infringing on a person’s constitutional rights cannot be used in a criminal trial against that person. The purpose of the rule is to discourage authorities from gathering evidence through illegal means by conducting excessive searches. There are exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule and lack of awareness of the provisions of the law could lead to questions with regard to one’s rights. Listed below are a few key questions answered by Experts.

What are the exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule?

There could be various exceptions to the exclusionary rule. One main exception is to allow evidence obtained in a case where the investigating police officer believed that he had a valid search warrant only to later find out that the warrant was null and void. This is also known as the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule. Another example of an exception is where certain facts can prove that the police would have finally discovered the evidence then it would still be allowed in a trial. This is also known as the inevitable discovery exception.

What are Exclusionary Rule pros and cons?

There are multiple pros of the Exclusionary Rule for citizens such as ensuring that trial proceedings for defendants are fair. The exclusionary rule also helps keep a check on police misconduct and guards a citizen’s basic right to privacy especially in cases where there seem to be no likely grounds for gathering evidence or conducting a search. The disadvantage of the rule is that it can often be misused by defendants as a legal technicality and hence does not address the issue of the crime.

Does the Exclusionary Rule apply to evidence obtained when a person or vehicle has been searched multiple times during a single stop in Arkansas?

In the state of Arkansas, by law there is no limit on how many times a person or vehicle can be searched in a stop. However since the Fourth Amendment has provided a citizen the right against excessive searches this would be more a question of how much searching is too much. In such a scenario, a court would have to review the case and if it decides that there were unwarranted searches then the evidence obtained would be subject to the Exclusionary Rule.

What does the term ‘fruit of the poisonous tree” mean in relation to the Exclusionary Rule?

Under the Exclusionary Rule, any evidence that has been uncovered through illegal means cannot be included in a criminal trial against the defendant. Hence in case of an unlawful interrogation (referred to as poisonous tree), which produces certain evidence (the fruit) then both the investigation and the evidence must be omitted. Thus the evidence that is excluded is termed as the fruit of the poisonous tree.

Can evidence, which was omitted under the Exclusionary Rule in a criminal case, be later used against the defendant in a civil hearing?

Since there are two separate cases involved i.e., a criminal case and a civil case, the decision on allowing the evidence would purely depend on the review of the trial judge in each case. Just because the judge in the criminal case omitted the evidence under the Exclusionary Rule does not mean that the evidence has to be excluded in the following civil case. The trial judge in the civil case will make a separate decision on whether or not to allow the evidence. The purpose of the Exclusionary Rule is to protect a citizen’s constitutional rights and avoid abuse of power by the authorities. However when faced with a criminal case, a person may not be sure whether their rights were violated or not. In such a scenario, it is always preferable to get Experts to evaluate the case and answer any questions that may arise.
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