In our last post, we continued speaking about the topic of search and seizure. As we’ve noted, police are bound by various procedural requirements in conducting these activities, and failure to follow those procedures can result in exclusion of incriminating evidence from trial, weakening prosecution’s case. The exclusionary rule, as this is called, is something defense attorneys sometimes make use of in cases involving drug charges.
There are some exceptions to the exclusionary rule, though. For instance, unlawfully obtained evidence is admissible if it is obtained by a private person, and not a police officer. The defendant must have standing, meaning evidence can only be suppressed if the illegal search violated the defendant’s own constitutional rights. This can affect those who face drug charges as a result of a search of a home or vehicle they occupied but did not own.
In addition, the following are other exceptions to the rule:
- The evidence was found in part because of a second, untainted source other than the illegal search.
- The evidence would have been discovered anyway without the illegal search.
- The officers that performed the search did so on the good faith belief that they were obeying the Fourth Amendment.
- There are intervening factors, like a significant amount of time or activity by the defendant or third parties, between the search and the discovery of evidence
In addition, illegally obtained evidence may be used for the purpose of impeaching a witness on cross examination. Also, the exclusionary rule does not apply to evidence presented in grand jury proceedings.
Those who feel they been subjected to an illegal search should speak to an attorney and determine how to best protect their rights and build a strong defense case.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Rapper Beanie Sigel arrested for drug, gun possession: report,” Piya Sinha-Roy, August 29, 2012