Exclusionary rule

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Additionally, there are three major exceptions to the exclusionary rule that make it easier for prosecutors to bring guilty defendants to justice. For example, the Independent Source Doctrine, which was created by the Supreme Court case of Segura and Colon v U.S in 1984, states that when same evidence is seized in two ways, one of which is illegal and the other is illegal, the evidence may still be submitted and cannot be excluded. The Inevitable Discovery Doctrine (Nix vs. Williams in1984) exception states that if the evidence "is secured physically by illegal means, but there is also a hypothetical seizure of the evidence that would not have been illegal," it may be submitted such as when a body is found through illegal interrogation, but the body would inevitably have been found because police were already searching the area (Evaluation of the exclusionary rule, 2009, essortment). The prosecution must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the evidence would have been located hypothetically in the future, had it not been seized illegally. The third and final exception is that of Good Faith (U.S. vs. Leon and Mass. vs. Sheppard, both in 1984) when a police officer receives a warrant and acts on it to seize evidence but there was an error in allowing the officer to have a warrant made by the judge. "So long as the police officer did not deliberately mislead the judge, and there is no evidence of misconduct on the part of the judge, the evidence may be allowed" (Evaluation of the exclusionary rule, 2009, essortment). Again, this shows that mere 'technicalities' are not enough to let the guilty go free.

Additionally, there are exceptions to the warrant requirement. For example, objects in plain view seized by officers do not require a warrant, nor do searches conducted in exigent circumstances or in good faith, such as accidentally arresting the wrong suspect and finding that the individual had contraband on his person, or entering a building to assist during an emergency. If an individual gives consent for his or her property to be searched, the police do not need a warrant, and third-parties who own the premises (such as a spouse) may also give access to premises, circumventing the need for a warrant (Fourth amendment, 2009, Wex Law)

Interpretation of the exclusionary rule has gotten more, rather than less complicated over the years. For example, electronic correspondence and data-keeping means that new ways for law enforcement to conduct surveillance and searching now exists: "Many electronic search cases have involved whether law enforcement can search the company-owned computer that an employee uses to conduct business. Although the case law is split, the majority holds that employees do not have legitimate expectations of privacy with regard to information stored on company-owned computers" (Fourth amendment, 2009, Wex Law). The U.S. Patriot Act has also complicated questions of what constitutes valid searches and seizures, and what can be excluded under the law. For example, one provision of the Patriot Act "permitted law enforcement to obtain access to tapping stored voicemails by obtaining a basic search warrant rather than a surveillance warrant," even though "obtaining the former requires a much lower evidentiary showing" and wiretapping more accurately seems to mirror surveillance technology, rather than single-incident searches of the premises for specific items (Fourth amendment, 2009, Wex Law). Another provision of the Patriot Act allowed law enforcement to use sneak-and-peak warrants, which meant that they could "delay notifying the property owner about the warrant's issuance" although this was struck down as unconstitutional (Fourth amendment, 2009, Wex Law).

The Patriot Act itself for many Americans highlighted the fragility of American's rights during times of national fear. It also showed the importance of the exclusionary rule, given how even well-intentioned zeal can result in innocent Americans having their privacy being violated by law-enforcement personnel. As surveillance technology grows increasingly sophisticated, the need for the exclusionary rule has grown. Furthermore, the myriad of exceptions for the exclusionary rule highlight the fallacy that the rule frequently results in individuals being let go simply on legal technicalities. In the real world, protecting American's rights is more of a challenge than trying to prevent an entire case dissolving because of a small legal snafu regarding the exclusionary rule.

Works Cited

Blackstone. (2009). Legal Dictionary. Retrieved May 5, 2009 at

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Blackstone,+Sir+William

Evaluation of the exclusionary rule. (2009). essortment. Retrieved May 5, 2009 at

http://www.essortment.com/all/exclusionaryrulrmlx.htm/

Fourth amendment. (2009). Wex Law. Cornell University. Retrieved May 5, 2009 at

http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/fourthamendment

Fruit of the poisonous tree. (2009). Law Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 5, 2009 at

http://law.jrank.org/pages/7042/Fruit-Poisonous-Tree.html

Lynch, Timothy. (1998). "In defense of the exclusionary rule."

Cato Policy Analysis: 319. Retrieved May 5, 2009 at

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-319es.html

The U.S. Constitution. (2009). Retrieved May 5, 2009 at

http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.table.html#amendments[continue]

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