Just dig a little into history and you would find that the Fourth Amendment (in whatever form it was then) had not been appreciated much for a very long time. It is quite interesting to note that evidences gathered by federal agents in violation of the same were considered admissible during those days. This meant that an investigating officer could really knock down the door and seize evidence breaking ones’ right to privacy in the process! Thank goodness for the exclusionary principle!
What is the exclusionary rule?
The main purpose of the exclusionary rule was to deter the police and federal agents from misconduct and abuse of power. With the introduction of this rule, it became possible for defendants to challenge the admissibility of evidence that were brought against them by the prosecution. The main objective of the exclusionary rule is to protect people’s right to be free from unauthorized seizures and unreasonable searches.
Enforcing the exclusionary rule
If the court finds that the investigating officer or the federal agent has committed an offense by including illegitimate evidence, or collecting evidences to cook up a case against a person, then the court has the power to initiate punitive actions against them. They will be subjected to prosecution and can be punished if found guilty.
However, rather than taking the case as a major offense, they are often handled as internal issues of the department. In addition to this, investigating officers who are found of violating a person’s Fourth Amendment rights could be sued for damages by the accused.
In the absence of the exclusionary rule, investigating agencies could turn the case against a person through illegally obtained evidence, many of which may be circumstantial. If the defendant does not argue that the evidence was not obtained illegally, chances are that the court may overlook the point and proceed with the prosecution anyway. However, these charges could also be dropped if the defendant discovers this piece of information at a later stage. This means that a convicted person who may be serving time could receive a pardon and cut short his sentence if the court is convinced that the evidence was obtained without legal basis.
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