7 Sep 2022


Exclusionary Rule and “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” Principle

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The exclusionary rule restricts unreasonable seizures or searches conducted by the police, and prohibits the admittance of such evidence to trial ( Sundby, 2012). While the exclusionary rule protects suspects or criminals from illegal searches, it also appears to promote iniquity considering that many people have used the rule to defend their actions ( Friedman & Pnomarenko, 2015). An essential upshot to this rule is the principle of the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.” This principle states that any additional evidence uncovered as a result of an illegal search cannot be used as evidence. For instance, while illegally searching for illegal drugs, the police find a map leading to an illegal marijuana plantation and locate it after that; their evidence cannot be admitted because the prior search was illegal. 

Identify the issues your partner has that relate to the exclusionary rule. 

According to the exclusionary rule, any form of evidence in the form of paperwork, videos, drugs, or weapons that are obtained illegally from a suspect cannot be admitted in court against the defendant. The exclusionary rule provides defendants with an ability to suppress a trial citing the use of illegally acquired evidence. The rule follows the fourth amendment that prohibits any form of mishandling of suspects in their residences, business premises, or on streets ( Gray, 2013). In this instance, my partner is driven by excitement and impulse and fails to pay attention to the dictates of the exclusionary rule. He proceeds to forcefully search a person without a warrant or permission from the individual. Even though he finds a vial of cocaine, which is an illegal drug, the evidence cannot be admitted in court for any trial. 

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What aspects of this action may shock the conscience of the court? 

The form of interrogation that follows the search is prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment. According to the rule, individuals must not be coerced or forced to provide incriminating evidence against themselves or others. Apart from searching without a warrant for it, or permission from the defendant, the conscience of the court can be affected by the coerced interrogation of the defendant. The defendant is coerced to reveal her dealer to protect herself from the imminent arrest ( Sarmiento, 2013). Moreover, my partner proceeds to suggest that the found cocaine should be planted on the individual to incriminate him or her, failure to which she faces charges. While these actions may reveal the existence and operations of an illegal drug ring, the way the searches and arrests are to be conducted are ill-motivated. 

What ensuing evidence found based on this operation may be discarded as “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.” 

The “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” is an element of the exclusionary rule that requires the exclusion of illegally acquired evidence or coercive interrogation in a trial. The “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” principle specifically excludes illegally acquired evidence and was originally formulated to protect people against unlawful seizures. Thus, the poisonous tree is a metaphor for illegal interrogations, searches, and seizures, while the fruits stand for the resultant evidence from the illegal search or interrogation. In this case, my partner illegally searched and found a vial of cocaine in a random prostitute. Thus, the vial of cocaine is considered a “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” (Clancy, 2012) 

In summary, the exclusionary rule consisting of additional principles including the “fruit of the poisonous tree” which also prohibits illegal searches even if they lead to the uncovering of prohibited videos, illegal drugs, or murder weapons. Thus, such acquired evidence becomes inadmissible in court. In the case of my partner, therefore, failure to pay attention to this implies that the gathered evidence is unacceptable. 


Clancy, T. K. (2012). The Fourth Amendment's Exclusionary Rule as a Constitutional Right. Ohio St. J. Crim. L. , 10 , 357. 

Friedman, B., & Pnomarenko, M. (2015). Democratic Policing. NYUL Rev. , 90 , 1827. 

Gray, D. (2013). A Spectacular Non Sequitur: The Supreme Court's Contemporary Fourth Amendment Exclusionary Rule Jurisprudence. Am. Crim. L. Rev., 50, 1. 

Sarmiento, D. (2013). Who's Afraid of the Charter; The Court of Justice, National Courts and the New Framework of Fundamental Rights Protection in Europe. Common Market L. Rev. , 50 , 1267. 

Sundby, S. E. (2012). Everyman's Exclusionary Rule: The Exclusionary Rule and the Rule of Law (or Why Conservatives Should Embrace the Exclusionary Rule). Ohio St. J. Crim. L., 10, 393. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Exclusionary Rule and “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” Principle.


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