The exclusionary rule, stemming directly from the Fifth Amendment, states that no object may be used in court as evidence if obtained illegally or without a proper search warrant. This principle gained its constitutional roots back in 1921 in the case of Gouled vs. United States. This Supreme Court held that although the government could seize contraband, it could not seize property simply to use as evidence. There are certain cases where evidence from warrantless searches is admissible, such as when something is in plain view, at an airport, during an arrest, or when there is no time to obtain a warrant.
The exclusionary rule prevents the police, in their zealousness to solve crimes, from violating the civil liberties of American citizens. Warrants can only be issued by judges if there is "probably cause" to believe that evidence of wrongdoing will be found. Warrants must contain the date, location, and time of a search, what is expected to be found, and the grounds for believing that such an object will be found in the place indicated. Many feel that these institutional safeguards are what distinguishes America from less civilized nations. They maintain that our civil liberties must be protected above all else.
The problem in some peoples' minds is that a person should not have contraband in his/her possession to begin with. If a police officer or investigator uncovers contraband in an unconstitutional manner, they feel that there is no reason to pretend that the material does not exist. They maintain that criminals all too often escape justice by loopholes such as this. Some Americans are willing to sacrifice some of their Constitutional rights for a greater feeling of sefety and security.
What do you think?
Do you feel that the exclusionary rule should exist?
Do you feel that too many criminals evade justice through the alleged loophole that the exclusionary rule creates?
Do you feel that civil liberties or public safety should take precedence when determining public policies?
You can write to us with your views!
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