In order to support a criminal conviction, there must be a certain amount of evidence to support the charges. In order for evidence to be used in a criminal case, it must be both “relevant” and “competent.” In other words, the evidence must be directly related to the charges and collected/handled in accordance with the law and the defendant’s constitutional rights.
If the evidence is not relevant and competent, or the defendant’s rights were violated in its collection, the evidence may be excluded. Under the exclusionary rule, the prosecution cannot use evidence that was improperly collected. The exclusionary rule most often comes into play when evidence is obtained through a violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure. If a search warrant was not obtained, or the area searched went beyond the scope of the warrant, the evidence may be excluded. For instance, if the police obtained a warrant to search for guns in the defendant’s garage, but they seized guns from the defendant’s bedroom, the evidence might be excluded from the record since the area searched went beyond the scope of the warrant.
Similarly, evidence may be excluded based on the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, which holds that otherwise admissible evidence must be excluded if it was the result of an improper search or other constitutional violation. For example, if a person is arrested without being read his or her Miranda rights, and he or she tells the police where to find illegal drugs, the drugs that are recovered as a result of the suspect’s confession may be inadmissible in court since the information was obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
There are some exceptions to the exclusionary rule, however. First, under the “inevitable discovery” doctrine, a judge might allow evidence that should be excluded to be admissible if it would have been discovered through legal means. Additionally, if a police officer acts under a good faith belief that he or she is acting in accordance with the law, then the evidence may be admissible as well.
Contact a Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer
The exclusionary rule – and the constitutional rights that it seeks to protect – are incredibly complicated. Accordingly, it is incredibly important that you consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with a crime. The Minnesota criminal defense lawyers at Keller Law Office will fight to ensure that your rights are protected and that any improperly obtained evidence is excluded from the record. Because we focus on criminal defense law, we are able to better protect your rights and work to eliminate or reduce the charges and/or penalties. We will stay by your side every step of the way so that your rights are protected and you understand what your options.
Contact our office at (952) 913-1421 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers.