What Is the Exclusionary Rule?

Were you arrested and charged with a crime in Las Vegas? Do you know or have reason to believe that the arresting police officer violated your constitutional rights? When an officer obtains evidence from an illegal search or seizure, that evidence might be inadmissible in court due to the exclusionary rule. Under this rule, courts must suppress evidence obtained in violation of an arrestee’s constitutional rights.

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The exclusionary rule can be a powerful tool for a defendant, as excluding evidence that a prosecutor needs for a conviction can lead to a dismissal of charges. However, the rule does not apply to all evidence—only evidence the government acquires through unconstitutional conduct. Thus, it’s essential to understand when evidence is admissible, your constitutional rights, what to do following an arrest, and how a criminal defense attorney could get your charges dismissed.

When Evidence Is and Isn’t Admissible

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits law enforcement officers from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures and requires the police to have probable cause to issue warrants. The exclusionary rule applies to evidence gathered from an unreasonable search or seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. It also applies to self-incriminatory statements and evidence gathered in violation of a person’s right to counsel.

The exclusionary rule is one mechanism to deter law enforcement officers from conducting illegal searches and seizures and provide recourse to defendants whose rights have been violated. Theoretically, because the police know that evidence obtained illegally can be inadmissible under the exclusionary rule, they will follow proper procedures during arrests and interrogations.

Nevertheless, violations of defendants’ constitutional rights still occur. When they do, the exclusionary rule could work in their favor. For instance, if the police obtain evidence without a warrant after searching your home, that evidence might be inadmissible in court under the exclusionary rule.

However, there are a few exceptions to the exclusionary rule:

  • Good-faith exception – If police officers reasonably rely on a search warrant that later turns out to be invalid, the evidence they obtained during the search likely will not be excluded.
  • Inevitable discovery doctrine – If the police obtain evidence during an illegal search or seizure that they would have eventually discovered through legal means, the evidence will likely be admissible.
  • Attenuation doctrine – If the relationship between the evidence and the unconstitutional conduct is too remote due to the passing of time or intervening circumstances, the evidence likely will not be excluded.
  • Evidence admissible for impeachment – The exclusionary rule does not prevent evidence illegally obtained by the police from being introduced at trial to attack the credibility of (or “impeach”) a defendant’s testimony.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can analyze the specific circumstances of your case to determine whether there are grounds to suppress any evidence against you under the exclusionary rule and prepare for any exceptions the prosecution might try to use to include the evidence.

What to Know About Defending Your Rights

If you believe the police obtained evidence against you in violation of your rights, your attorney can file a motion to suppress that evidence so the prosecution cannot use it at trial. Your lawyer may argue that:

  • The police searched without probable cause or a valid warrant
  • The police subjected you to an unlawful arrest or detention
  • Law enforcement interrogated you without informing you of your Miranda rights
  • Your property was seized without justification
  • The police used excessive force during your arrest

To build a solid case and successfully defend your rights, your attorney will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your arrest and detention and gather crucial evidence proving that law enforcement violated your rights. This process can involve interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, reviewing police reports, and hiring expert witnesses.

Some Things to Keep in Mind Following an Arrest

Following an arrest, you must speak to an attorney immediately. Remember that you have a constitutional right to have an attorney present during any interrogation by the police. Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Cooperate with your attorney’s investigation. Provide all the details you can recall about your arrest, including what the police said and did and any items they seized.
  • Save any physical evidence from the incident if possible. This evidence may include your clothes or any photos you took.
  • Be completely honest with your lawyer. Don’t try to hide anything about your case, even information unfavorable to you. Your attorney needs to know everything to build the most vigorous defense.
  • Refrain from discussing your case with anyone other than your lawyer.

How an Attorney Can Help

An attorney with experience handling cases involving the exclusionary rule can properly investigate your case, build a solid defense, and represent you effectively in pretrial motions and hearings. Specifically, your lawyer can:

  • Review police reports to identify potential violations of your rights
  • Interview you and potential witnesses to understand precisely what happened during your arrest
  • Thoroughly examine evidence to assess whether the police obtained it illegally
  • Research relevant case law that supports suppressing illegally obtained evidence
  • File a motion to suppress evidence before your trial begins
  • Argue to the judge why exclusion is proper at a suppression hearing
  • Work to ensure illegally obtained evidence is not used to convict you wrongfully

With so much on the line, you need an attorney to defend your rights at every stage. Don’t leave your future to chance. Make sure you have experienced legal counsel fighting for you.

Contact De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Today

If you were arrested and charged with a crime, you might feel unsure how to protect your rights. You need practical, aggressive legal representation when your freedom is on the line. At De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration, we know what’s at stake. That’s why we will work tirelessly to build a robust case in your defense and ensure your rights are recognized.

For decades, our award-winning legal team has secured justice for people facing criminal charges throughout Las Vegas, and we can do the same for you. Contact our office today to learn more about your legal options.