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The 4th Amendment’s Exclusionary Rule

throwing out evidence

WHAT IS THE 4TH AMENDMENT’S EXCLUSIONARY RULE

The 4th amendment of the constitution guarantees people the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The exclusionary rule comes into play when the government violates a person’s 4th amendment rights and illegally searches a person or their property. In these cases the courts have come in and said that the government should not be able to benefit from their illegal conduct, and therefore any evidence seized is tainted by the government’s misconduct, and should be excluded at trial.

ILLEGALLY SEIZED EVIDENCE CAN BE USED TO IMPEACH PERJURED TESTIOMNY

There are a number of exception to the exclusionary rule. One exception is if the defendant puts on a witness, and the witness perjured themselves on the stand then the State can introduce illegally obtained evidence to impeach the witnesses testimony, since witnesses have no right to give perjured testimony.

THE INEVITABLE DISCOVERY EXCEPTION

Another exception to the exclusionary rule is if the government would have found the evidence even without their illegal conduct then the evidence will not be excluded at trial, since the court’s do not want to put the government in a worse position then they would have been in had they not committed the illegal act. It is the government’s burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that even without their illegal conduct they would have found the evidence they illegally obtained.

ATTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES

A third exception to the exclusionary rule is if there are attenuating circumstances. Attenuating circumstances occur when something happens to untaint the illegallys seized evidence from the government’s misconduct. In the Supreme Court case Utah v. Streiff the court set forth a three prong balancing test to determine if there were attenuating circumstances.

The first factor is the proximity between the government’s misconduct and the evidence obtained from the misconduct. The second factor is whether there was an intervening event between the government’s misconduct and the evidence obtained. The third and final factor is the flagrancy of the government’s misconduct