Fourth Amendment To The United States Constitution - Exclusionary Rule - Limitations


In United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338 (1974), the Supreme Court ruled that grand juries may use allegedly illegally obtained evidence in questioning witnesses because "the damage to that institution from the unprecedented extension of the exclusionary rule outweighs the benefit of any possible incremental deterrent effect." The issue of illegality of search should be adjudged in a subsequent proceeding, after the defendant has been indicted. In United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), the Supreme Court, applying the "good faith" rule, ruled that evidence seized by officers relying in good faith on a warrant was still admissible, even though the warrant was later found to be defective. Evidence would be excluded, however, if an officer dishonestly or recklessly prepared an affidavit to seek a warrant, the issuing magistrate abandoned his neutrality, or the warrant lacked sufficient particularity.

The Leon case applies only to search warrants. The Supreme Court ruled in Arizona v. Evans, 514 U.S. 1 (1995) and Herring v. United States (2009), that the exclusionary rule does not apply to evidence found due to negligence regarding a government database, as long as the arresting police officer relied on that database in "good faith" and that the negligence was not pervasive. In Davis v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2419 (2011), the Supreme Court ruled that the exclusionary rule does not apply to a Fourth Amendment violation resulting from a reasonable reliance on binding appellate precedent. To what extent the "good faith" exception applies to warrantless seizures in other contexts remains unclear.

The rule has been held not to apply in the following circumstances:

  • probation or parole revocation hearings; tax hearings;
  • deportation hearings;
  • military discharge proceedings; child protective proceedings;
  • sentencing hearings;
  • evidence seized from a common carrier;
  • evidence collected by U.S. Customs agents;
  • evidence seized by probation or parole officers;
  • evidence seized outside the United States;
  • evidence illegally seized by a "private actor" (i.e., not a governmental employee); and
  • illegally seized evidence used to impeach the defendant's testimony.

Under Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128 (1978), a defendant has standing to object to the admission of unconstitutionally seized evidence only if such seizure violated that defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. In other words, a defendant may not assert another person's rights.

In Rakas, the Court ruled that a passenger in a car which he does not own has standing to contest the stop of the car and a search of *his* person, but he usually lacks standing to contest a search of the car. He would have standing to challenge the search of the car, if he is the owner of that car. However, that rule was modified by Brendlin v. California, 551 U.S. 249 (2007), in which the Court ruled that all occupants of a car are "seized" for purposes of the Fourth Amendment during a traffic stop, not just the driver. Therefore, a passenger in a vehicle subject to a traffic stop is thereby "detained" for purposes of the Fourth Amendment, thus allowing the passenger to contest the legality of the traffic stop.

In Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796 (1984), the Supreme court ruled that evidence illegally found without a search warrant is admissible if the evidence is later found and legally seized based on information independent of the illegal search.

In Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431 (1984), the Supreme Court ruled that evidence illegally seized without a search warrant is admissible if the prosecution can prove the evidence would have been found and seized by legal means not based on evidence or information illegally seized.

Read more about this topic:  Fourth Amendment To The United States Constitution, Exclusionary Rule

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