The Exclusionary Rule

Topics: Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Exclusionary rule, Supreme Court of the United States Pages: 6 (2371 words) Published: January 27, 2013
The Exclusionary Rule

This paper will present the Exclusionary Rule and the original intentions for its enactment. It will discuss the importance of the rule and how it is a protection against an unlawful search and seizure and a violation of the rights provided by the Fourth Amendment. Also, this document will display the history of the Exclusionary Rule, with its first appearance in the case, Boyd v. United States in 1886. Weeks v. United States will show a better-established, stronger version of the exclusionary rule. Another expansion of the rule will be described by the Mapp v. Ohio case. In this paper, I will also state and describe the four primary exceptions to the exclusionary rule: Inevitable Discovery Doctrine, Valid Independent Source, Harmless Error, and the Good Faith Exception. I will subsequently describe the possible abuse of these exceptions and the complications with the exceptions. The document will examine statistical data regarding the exclusionary rule and conclude with my personal opinions regarding the exclusionary rule and its exceptions.

According to, the Exclusionary Rule, by definition, is “the principle based on federal Constitutional Law that evidence illegally seized by law enforcement officers in violation of a suspect's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures cannot be used against the suspect in a criminal prosecution”. This doctrine prevents the introduction of evidence at a trial that was obtained by illegal police activity and/or investigation and excludes it from being admissible as evidence in court. The exclusionary rule was originally designed to exclude evidence that was illegally obtained by an officer by violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights. “The exclusionary rule also helps preserve judicial integrity by preventing judicial agreement in denying a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, deters police misconduct by making improperly obtained evidence inadmissible in court and protects citizens’ constitutional “right to privacy”. (Harr, Hess, & Orthmann, 2012, p 215). The Fourth Amendment states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, bet supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." (Fourth Amendment, n.d.) The exclusionary rule was first introduced in Boyd v. United States in 1886. In this case, the defendant was accused of falsifying documents to avoid customs fees or duties. The U.S. government requested Boyd to produce documentation showing the quantity and value of the shipments of plate glass that he had been shipping. The defendant protested the request, claiming that he should not be required to produce evidence against himself; the motion was overruled and the judgment favored the government. The U.S. Supreme Court held that “a search and seizure [was] equivalent [to] a compulsory production of a man's private papers” and that the search was “an 'unreasonable search and seizure' within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment”, thus the first exclusion of evidence by governmental illegality, the exclusionary rule. (Boyd v. United States, 2012) (Boyd v. United States, n.d.) In 1914, the Supreme Court established the Exclusionary Rule in the case, Weeks v. United States, under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful searches and seizures. In Weeks v. United States, Fremont Weeks was accused and charged with transporting lottery tickets by mail for illegal gambling purposes. The police conducted the search of Weeks’ home without a search warrant on two different occasions. According to, The Supreme Court unanimously held that the warrantless seizure of the evidence obtained from Weeks’ residence sufficiently constitutes a violation of...

References: Retrieved May 20, 2012, from, Web site:
Boyd v
Evaluation of the Exclusionary Rule (2011), retrieved May 20, 2012 from
May 20, 2012, from
Fourth Amendment (n.d.) Legal Information Institute, Retrieved May 20, 2012, from
Harr J., Hess, K., Orthmann, C. (2012). Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System.
Independent Source (2012), Retrieved May 20, 2012, from
Mapp v. Ohio (2012), retrieved May 20, 2012, from
Murray v. United States (2012), retrieved May 20, 2012, from
Mapping out the Consequences of the Exclusionary rule, retrieved May 20, 2012, from
Weeks v. United States (2011), retrieved May 20, 2012, from
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