Exclusionary Rule: What Are Its Pros and Cons
In a gist, the exclusionary rule prohibits the presentation of evidence that is illegally or unlawfully acquired. If proof was obtained in violation of the Constitution, a criminal defendant can strike it as admissible. Because the constitutional exclusionary rule covers a lot of aspects, it is often misleading.
For example, a witness may be prohibited from testifying if he or she was not disclosed before the trial. On the other hand, a minor traffic violation that led to the discovery of cocaine would render the search illegal if the defendant did not consent to it or that the police did not have probable cause to search for illegal drugs, as it was supposed to be a traffic-related incident. Situations like these made the exclusionary rule quite controversial.
What Are the Pros of the Exclusionary Rule?
1. Upholds the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment protects you from unnecessary search and seizure, and the exclusionary rule helps to uphold it. If you are being investigated for any crime, you will be spared from police and investigators putting aside your constitutional rights. This would also force them to be meticulous in their investigation and to do their job within the law.
2. Shifts the burden of proof
Even if you are not yet proven guilty, public opinion can either be for or against you. But because of the attention paid by the government on your case, people are likely to think the worst of you. Until there is legal proof presented, however, you will be innocent until proven guilty. This again shifts the burden of proof to the government because of the exclusionary rule.
3. Stops people from being charged of any crime
The elements surrounding the exclusionary rule demands that prosecutors must work hard to present a stronger overall case. This makes merely accusing someone insufficient reason to put them in jail. Innocent people, in particular, will be protected by this rule.
What Are the Cons of the Exclusionary Rule?
1. Unconstitutional to a certain extent
The exclusionary rule may be a great tool to boost the Fourth Amendment, but it was never mentioned in the Constitution, either explicitly or implicitly. In fact, it is often considered as a remedy to policing methods that the court created. This makes it unconstitutional, resulting in people questioning its effectiveness and calling for its removal from court rulings.
2. Leads to costly analysis
Because there is a need to obtain evidence legally, the police and investigators have to expend a lot of time and energy to build a strong case requiring significant amounts of money. This is especially true if more evidence is required in case something is thrown out. Add to this the delays in trial and the increase in the number of plea bargains, and the entire process can be really expensive.
3. Enables the guilty to walk free
Evidence that has merit but is obtained illegally can nullify a strong prosecution. What if that particular piece of proof is the truth that everyone is looking for? If it is dismissed, guilty people can go free, especially because the exclusionary rule can slow down the pace of an investigation. This can also lead to more crimes being committed, since the guilty party can be on a killing spree while investigators are still looking for more evidence.
Although the exclusionary rule serves as a deterrent against illegal search and seizure, it is not without faults. Fortunately, it is likely to change as investigative practices and criminal justice continue to evolve.