Free The Exclusionary Rule Essay Sample


“There are more than 17,000 police and sheriff departments in the United States employing over 600,000 full-time officers with general powers,” (Gardner and Anderson, 2009) Their responsibilities involve the protection of civilians from criminal activities and arresting criminal offenders. Arrest is made so that a suspect can be charged with crimes and to do this, enough evidence must be produced to charge a suspect. Some officers do violate the state constitution by interfering with the justice process; one being, the violation of exclusionary rule. Acker and Brody, (2004) note that “Exclusionary rule is designed to deter the police from violating the Fourth Amendment rights.”

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Law enforcers may violate the FBI procedures or police rules and in case the latter applies, then police department can handle the case. However if violation grossly interferes with statutory right of a potential defendant and the constitution of the United States, then legal measures must be. According to Gardner and Anderson, (2009), “Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination and the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures are all threatened by police misconduct.” Police misconduct is what is likened with a tree that bears poisonous fruits because contrary to their duty of protecting citizens, this misconduct is a gross violation of human right and denial of fair judgment. According to Scheb, (2008) “The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine holds that evidence derived from other evidence that is obtained through an illegal search and seizure is itself inadmissible.” This essay therefore argues on the application and consequences of the exclusionary rule on criminal with specific reference to the case of murder of Mr. Clyde Stevens.   

The purpose of the Exclusionary Rule is to deter and depress police misconduct when it comes to handling legal rights of defendants. In addition, Exclusionary Rule guards against a citizen’s statutory rights and ensures compliance with court rules. In order to enforce the rule calculation is made to establish the truth. “Its purpose is to deter-to compel respect for the constitutional guaranty in the only effective available way-by removing the incentive to disregard it (U.S Supreme Court in Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S 206,80 S. Ct. 1453, and other cases)”. If the Exclusionary Rule is found to have been violated against a defendant, any evidence got through illegal means must be excluded and censored. Supreme Court in a bid to bring sanity in justice system ruled that inadmissible evidence be excluded. The U.S Supreme Court also used the Exclusion Rule to violate court-fashioned rules; for instance, the popular Miranda rule.  Gardner and Anderson, (2009) affirm that, “The Supreme Court adopted a court rule for determining safeguards that must be used by police before obtaining a confession or other incriminating statements.”

The case of William Ellis is to be extradited in Illinois. Most states in the U.S have two sets of exclusionary law: The Supreme Court which has a defined procedure for execution of federal exclusionary rule and states’ own version of exclusionary rule that is used within a given state’s boundaries. Coppolo, (2005) notes that, “Both the state and federal supreme courts consistently have held that a search conducted without a warrant issued upon probable cause is per se unreasonable subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.” However, when a case gets into the hands of The Supreme Court, federal rule is superior to state laws and Mapp rule is used to make legal judgments. In Illinois, “Some defendants believe that if they can show that a search was illegal, the case must be dismissed. Not true. If a prosecutor has enough other evidence to prove the defendant guilty, the case can continue,” (Nolo, 2008).

The general legal action pertaining search and seizure in the United States follows that any such actions be carried out by police officers or private security officers with valid consent of a property’s owner. This statement is supported by FBI law Enforcement Bulletin which as quoted by Gardner and Anderson, (2009) state that, “consent is a well-known and lawful tool police officers often rely on to conduct searches and seizure in a wide variety of situations and circumstances.” A case to justify this federal rule was witnessed in United States v Drayton. In the case, it was affirmed by the court that it is prudent that security officers act within the law when search and seizure is carried out. Incidences of coercion and harassment must be negated and instead, the police should seek for an owner’s advice and wishes. Evidence obtained from a consent search must comply with two necessities for them to be admissible, (Jenkins, 2009).

Firstly for consent to be valid, courts must approve that it was given willingly. Evidence obtained through search and seizure ought to be collected via a citizen’s consent to entry into his/her personal property. Acts of coercion and harassment during search and seizure disqualifies the use of those evidences and this is monitor by looking at the circumstances in totality. A number of factors are considered to test whether consent was voluntary or not. These include: state of mind of a premises owner at the time of search, age of a person, intoxication, and other myriad tactics that can be employed for persuasion of a premise’s owner.

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The second requirement for testing the circumstances under which consent was given is proving that a given consent was given by the person with ultimate authority.  A consenting person can either be an actual or apparent authority depending on the circumstances surrounding property ownership. In a case where there is tenant and a landlord, the tenant may have actual authority for consent at the expense of a landlord. In addition, “The person giving consent may limit the area to be searched or, after giving consent, may revoke the consent. If the revocation is clear and specific, it is effective if done prior to the discovery of contraband evidence,” (Gardner and Anderson, 2009). However, revocation is not permitted in the case of a traveler undergoing security screening by port authorities. In addition, revocation is not allowed for a person paying a visit in prison.

The case of Georgia v Randolph United States Supreme Court, 547 U.S. 103 (2006), was ruled in favor of the defendant concerning the use of evidence attained after consent that was given by a co-owner. The defendant’s wife gave consent to search for illegal drugs while the defendant himself refused. After search, officers found the illegal drugs and upon presentation at the court, the evidence was turned down following the defendant’s refusal to give his consent for search. Following an initial judgment that found the defendant guilty, the case was reversed given that the evidence (drugs) seized ought to have been suppressed.   

The above discussion distinguishes the circumstances under which consent is given voluntarily. In the contrary, there are circumstances under which security officers may not need consent to enter a premise. The condition has to be either exigent or there is a wailing sound of somebody in need of urgent help. A person could scream for help when there is fire outbreak, attack by criminals or any other circumstance that causes distress. A police or security officer entering a premise under such situations may not need to ask for consent of entry.

In the murder case of Clyde Stevens, William Ellis is extradited for murder following forensic evidence that places him in the crime scene. Mrs. Stephens gave consent for search and seizure of evidence that can establish her husband’s killer. This is a voluntary consent for search. Forensic evidence is found in William’s bedroom and as a result, he is linked with Mr. Stevens’ murder. Crime scene investigators did a mistake of not getting the consent of William to search his bedroom. Actual consent should have been gotten from him as he has ultimate authority for search in his bedroom. If I were one of the crime scene investigators, the best thing to do would have been seeking for William’s consent for search. Therefore in this case, William’s lawyer has a valid reason to suppress evidence presented for extraditing William.

The exclusion rule for evidence found in William’s bedroom does not apply to all the evidences attained for this case. This is because Mrs. Stevens gave consent for search and any evidence found in her room will be valid for extraditing William. Exclusionary rule has its own demerit in that at times it may suppress the use of reliable evidence against criminals who may be a threat in the society. As long as there is violation in evidence gathering, such evidence cannot be used to charge guilty defendants.


From the discussion above, it can be seen that the applicability of the rule of exclusion widely depend on the interpretation of legal terms and conditions. These interpretations vary; thus leading to conflict of interest, which is basis upon which amendments are made. The exclusion rule has seen the introduction of The Fourth Amendment to resolve issues of defendant extradition. Another legal framework that has posed challenges is the establishment of voluntary consent when police officers enter a premise for search of evidence. Courts have made judgments involving the exclusion rule depending on how claimants and defendants argue and prove validity of evidence used for extradition.    


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