Exclusionary Rule: The Debate

WWhat is the exclusionary rule

Exclusionary rule or the Fourth Amendment

Everyone needs to know what is the exclusionary rule. It is one of the most important principles of freedom and a guardian against abuse of power by investigation agencies. The rule bars any evidence that has not been gathered by following the procedures set in place to ensure that the rights of citizens would not be violated. This is also referred to as the Fourth Amendment.


The history of the rule goes all the way back to the English Court. An eminent jurist of the time, Lord Chief Justice Mansfield declared that there ought to be some doubt in cases of self incrimination in criminal cases where the confession could in all likelihood have been coerced out of the subject. With this view in mind, many cases of that time saw confessions that were not made in the presence of a magistrate as inadmissible. The practice was however limited as some courts did allow such evidences to be presented before them.

The U.S. Bill of Rights however, guaranteed rights to all its citizens and this included protection from undue police action. The exclusionary rule simply reiterates this assurance. However, the Fourth Amendment alone was not enough to guarantee that it applied to every court. This is because the US followed a Federal structure and because of this, not all states agreed to the exclusionary rule. It took another amendment, the fourteenth to ensure that the rule applied throughout the country.

On-going discussions

Although it has certainly been a very long time since the rule had been introduced as a law, debates have been raging as to whether the rule affected efficiency. The Pro-exclusionary rule advocates argued that the rule guarded against police incursion into an individual’s privacy. It also apparently, made sure that the investigating officers “behaved”.

Police Action

Exclusionary rule protects the Rights of citizens

Those are strong arguments. Unfortunately, the case against the role is just as strong and therein lays the problem. Anti-exclusionary rule advocates argue that the rule holds back police officers from gathering evidence from the high and mighty. So, while the rule does not protect the smaller peddlers/criminals as they do not have the means of acting swiftly, the real perpetrators would escape. Surprise after all, is an important weapon in the fight against criminals.

So you see, the nuances of the legal system are very complex. What is the exclusionary rule and other terms can be further understood by following prominent case files.