The “fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine” and criminal searches
The search of a Mesa resident’s home or vehicle by law enforcement officials may be a stressful and upsetting process. It can be incredibly difficult to see law enforcement officials go through one’s personal items and, if they allege to have found incriminating evidence, law enforcement officials may move forward with the arrest of the individual in question. It is therefore imperative that searches performed pursuant to alleged criminal matters are done in accordance with the law.
A prior post here discussed probable cause and the role it plays in searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. When law enforcement officials lack a warrant or probable cause to engage in a search, they may violate a person’s Fourth Amendment rights. If a person’s rights are violated due to a search, the evidence the law enforcement officials collected may be “thrown out” and inadmissible.
This is effectively the “fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine“ as it applies to searches and the seizure of property. If a search is illegal, law enforcement officials and prosecutors should not get to benefit from the alleged evidence that was obtained from the illegal search. Effectively, if the root of a search is illegal, any evidence obtained from it will be inadmissible in court.
In the wake of a potentially illegal search it is important to explore the potential criminal defense options. The exclusion of illegally obtained evidence may be possible. Mesa residents who are facing this possibility may benefit from getting more information about the options in their own unique case.