Notes On The Exclusionary Rule

What is the exclusionary rule

Evidences and the exclusionary rule

There are many rules that one has to be familiar with while practicing law. Unlike ordinary folk, these rules are the bread and butter for those who are in the profession of representing people and advising on legal issues.

Law is easy to study. Each law leads to the next and with a bit of logic one can easily pass through law school. However, the real difficulty comes in its application. Merely citing a law is not enough. How effectively you can use the points to argue your case is the true test and hallmark of a competent lawyer.

What is the exclusionary rule?

One of the most hotly contested rules is that of the exclusionary rule. This rule brought in as the Fourth Amendment and implemented throughout the country with the Fourteenth Amendment. The exact text of the rule might be confusing so here is a simple example that should convey the same.

Consider a person who is enjoying the Super Bowl on TV. Suddenly there is a knock on the window and the police come barging in and ransack his home for evidence. They find something and based on that, take the person into custody. Is there something wrong with that situation? If you think that it was unbecoming of an officer to search for evidence without producing a warrant to the same, then you are right.

Fourth Amendment

     Rule to prevent violation of privacy

A police officer’s actions are governed by a set of laws. The exclusionary rule has a role to play here. It states that no evidence may be obtained forcefully or without producing a warrant for search and seizure. This was to protect the citizen’s right to privacy, which is enshrined in the constitution of every democracy. In the above example, the police cannot use evidence used without such authorization in court or hold the same against a person to bring him into custody.

What is the exclusionary rule role when it comes to deciding cases? Judges can dismiss cases outright if they find that the primary evidence that was used to implicate a person was obtained in violation of the fourth amendment. The person can then move against the investigating agency for violating privacy and seek damages. There are however certain arguments that the investigating agency can cite to defend its position. If an officer simply happens to come across evidence rather than intentionally forcing his way to gather evidence, then such evidence may be admitted in court.

So, you see, the exclusionary rule is both a boon and a bane. Moreover, like every other tool, this too has to be handled well to be of use to the user.