The Exclusionary Rule is a very important part of the criminal justice system. It maintains a check to make sure that all evidence is legally obtained throughout the investigative process. Evidence not legally obtained should be barred from court proceedings and not used against a defendant.
What is the Exclusionary Rule?
The Exclusionary Rule, which has been examined and upheld several times by the Supreme Court, maintains that any and all evidence that can be introduced in trial against a defendant must be seized in a legal manner and in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. People have the right to be secure in their homes and are protected against illegal searches and seizures by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Congress adopted the Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, on December 15, 1791. The first landmark case that examined the rights afforded to citizens by the Fourth Amendment was the case of Weeks v. US. Freemont Weeks was suspected of mail fraud, a federal offense, by using the mail as a means to sell lottery tickets. Mr. Weeks was arrested and law enforcement officials were sent to his residence to conduct a search. While there, the officers did confiscate incriminating evidence, but they also confiscated some of Mr. Weeks' personal belongings. During the initial trial, where Mr. Weeks was found guilty, his attorney asked that the personal belongings that were seized be returned to his client because they had been obtained illegally; the officers conducting the search did not have a search warrant. A Federal Judge agreed that the items were illegally seized and must be returned to Mr. Weeks. Mr. Weeks then appealed his conviction, reasoning that if his personal belongings had been illegally seized that night, then all evidence that was seized that night was done so illegally. The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court where Mr. Weeks' original conviction was overturned on the basis that the evidence... [continues]
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