In our last post, we spoke briefly about the exclusionary rule and its place in the criminal defense process. As we mentioned, the rule is in place to offer relief to defendants who have had their constitutional rights violated in the course of a police investigation.
Excluding illegally obtained evidence from trial can have a more or less beneficial effect on the outcome of a criminal case, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, the effect may be minimal. For instance, in a DUI case where officers draw a suspect’s blood without first obtaining a warrant, when they should have done so, there may not be that drastic of an effect on the case if there is ample evidence of intoxication to allow prosecutors to pursue charges.
On the other hand, when evidence which is critical to prosecutors’ case is excluded from trial, it can have the effect of destroying the basis for charges altogether. For example, if a defendant is able to have evidence of drug possession thrown out because the evidence was obtained through an illegal search of a vehicle or a home, prosecutors may be completely unable to pursue possession charges. Without that critical evidence, prosecutors may be without a foundation for charges.
The exact impact of the exclusionary rule—when it actually applies—all depends on the circumstances of the case. In cases where it does apply, though, it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure that one is able to take advantage of the rule and other available protections, and that everything is done correctly and as smoothly as possible.