The exclusionary rule and other remedies for police misconduct
The exclusionary rule—the rule that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments is inadmissible at trial—is probably the most controversial topic in all of criminal procedure. Opponents of the rule point not only to the obvious fact that the suppression of evidence obtained through searches and seizures, interrogations, and identification procedures can result in dismissal or reduction of charges against a clearly guilty person. They also argue that exclusion often fails to achieve its goal of deterring police misconduct, because its most direct impact falls on prosecutors, not law enforcement officers. Yet the rule’s proponents insist that, despite its flaws, the rule is still the optimal method of ensuring obedience to the Constitution’s mandates, and that allowing courts to use evidence obtained through unconstitutional means undermines the integrity of the judicial system.
No constitutional provision specifically requires exclusion. However, the Fifth Amendment’s declaration that “no person … shall be compelled to be a witness against himself” does suggest that compelled statements and testimony should not be admitted into evidence. In the 1886 decision of Boyd v. United States,1 the Supreme Court relied on that language in suppressing invoices obtained through compulsory process (i.e., a subpoena), and declared that this compulsion was also “the equivalent of search and seizure—an unreasonable search and seizure—within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.” As a result, in federal courts exclusion eventually became the remedy not only when the Fifth Amendment was infringed, but also...
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