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Criminal Defense Blog


What is fruit of the poisonous tree legal doctrine?

One of the benefits of being an American citizen is having full protection under the U.S. Constitution. In the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, you have some valuable rights. These include your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, your right to legal counsel during most phases of the criminal justice process and your right not to incriminate yourself.

To be certain you know about your legal rights, officers must inform you of them before questioning them. According to the U.S. Courts, this usually requires giving the Miranda advisement. Officers must also follow the law when collecting evidence to use against you.

Official misconduct

Sadly, it is not uncommon for officers and prosecutors to cut corners when investigating or prosecuting suspected criminal activity. Official misconduct, though, may come in a variety of forms. Furthermore, some types of misconduct are more serious than other types.

The poisonous tree

When you plant a tree, you must be careful not to poison the soil. After all, poisoned soil is likely to produce poisoned fruit. In criminal law, this analogy is useful to those who are facing prosecution.

A basic legal tenet, the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine means officials cannot use anything that comes from official misconduct against you. For example, if officers did not advise you of your Miranda rights before interrogating you, your confession may be inadmissible.

Judges tend not to reward officers and prosecutors who violate a person’s fundamental rights. Ultimately, if official misconduct is serious enough, prosecutors simply may not have enough evidence to secure a conviction.

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