Exclusionary Rule

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Exclusionary Rule


Quick Summary of Exclusionary Rule


A rule of evidence that disallows the use of illegally obtained evidence in criminal trials. For example, the exclusionary rule would prevent a prosecutor from introducing at trial evidence seized during an illegal search.




What is the dictionary definition of Exclusionary Rule?

Dictionary Definition


n. the rule that evidence secured by illegal means and in bad faith cannot be introduced in a criminal trial. The technical term is that it is “excluded” upon a motion to suppress made by the lawyer for the accused. It is based on the constitutional requirement that “?no [person] can be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, applied to the states by 14th Amendment). A technical error in a search warrant made in good faith will not cause exclusion of the evidence obtained under that warrant. In 1995 the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained with a warrant that had been cancelled could be admitted if the law enforcement officer believed it was still in force. However, evidence which was uncovered as a result of obtaining other evidence illegally will be excluded, under the “fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.” Thus, if an illegal wire tap reveals the location of other evidence, both the transcript of the wire tap conversation and the evidence to which the listeners were directed will be excluded.


Full Definition of Exclusionary Rule


The exclusionary rule is derived from the Fourth Amendment which states that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself” and that no person “shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” The exclusionary rule does not allow evidence to be used in court if it was obtained illegally or without a proper search warrant. It is a legal principle that holds true under constitutional law.

The Exclusionary Rule was elaborated in the 1960s to cover other parts of law enforcement procedures, such as wiretapping evidence and involuntary confessions. There are exceptions and limitations to this rule. For instance, evidence may be used if a second, untainted source has a major role in finding the evidence, the evidence would have been discovered anyway without the tainted evidence or the evidence is to be used for impeaching a witness on cross-examination. Additionally, a witness’s identification of the defendant is not excluded if the witness could identify the defendant before an illegal arrest (witnesses recognizes the defendant from the crime, not from the line up), the evidence is for a grand jury proceeding, or state agents acted under a good faith belief that they were complying with the Fourth Amendment.


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Definition Sources


Definitions for Exclusionary Rule are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 28th April, 2020 | 1 Views.