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But if the policeman decided that the fastest way to find evidence was to break into Smith's home without a search warrant, his effort would be for naught. Even if the police officer discovered seven stolen TV sets in Smith's living room, the case would almost certainly be thrown out of court...Smith's attorney could have the trial judge bar the admission of the stolen goods as evidence since it was obtained through an illegal search. And without that illegally obtained evidence, the district attorney would probably be unable to successfully prosecute a case of theft" (Lynch 1998, p.2). The exclusionary rule thus acts an important 'check 'against the unfettered use of prosecutor and police power by the state and is supported by separation-of-power doctrine (Lynch 1998, p.4).
An offspring of the exclusionary rule is the 'fruit of the poisonous tree' doctrine, namely that no 'fruits' or useful evidence can be used by the prosecution that were obtained illegally from a 'poisonous tree' or illegal search. "Under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, evidence is also excluded from trial if it was gained through evidence uncovered in an illegal arrest, unreasonable search, or coercive interrogation. Like the exclusionary rule, the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine was established primarily to deter law enforcement from violating rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. The name fruit of the poisonous tree is thus a metaphor: the poisonous tree is evidence seized in an illegal arrest, search, or interrogation by law enforcement. The fruit of this poisonous tree is evidence later discovered because of knowledge gained from the first illegal search, arrest, or interrogation. The poisonous tree and the fruit are both excluded from a criminal trial" (Fruit of the poisonous tree, 2009, Legal Encyclopedia). If an illegal search leads to evidence, which then leads to still more evidence, all must be excluded, even if the second phase of evidence gathering was obtained through a legal warrant.
For most searches to be legal, a warrant must be obtained. The law enforcement official must show probable cause that a crime has been committed, take an…[continue]
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