Evidence is one of the most important facets of all legal matters—sometimes, it is the evidence that makes or breaks the entire case. While obtaining evidence is essential to proving an individual’s innocence or guilt, the evidence must be obtained legally. When evidence is not obtained legally, it can fall under the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” doctrine, making it inadmissible.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
A legal metaphor, the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine essentially claims that if the source—or the “tree”—of evidence is tainted, then anything gained—the “fruit”—is tainted as well. Also known as the exclusionary rule, the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine makes illegally obtained evidence inadmissible in a court of law. This means the evidence cannot be used against the defendant while at trial. Because the doctrine can affect the evidence of a trial, it can ultimately influence the entire outcome of the case. Evidence must be obtained legally, meaning through search warrants and the like.
Generally, any evidence obtained in violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights is considered invalid. However, the doctrine is subject to certain exceptions which make evidence admissible in court, such as:
- The evidence was discovered in part due to a source that was independent, tainted or deemed unreliable.
- The evidence would have eventually been discovered despite the source.
- The series of events of the causation between the illegal act and the tainted evidence is too mitigated.
- The search warrant was found to be invalid or obtained without probable cause, but was still executed in “good faith.”
When to Hire a Lawyer
As with any case, taking your freedom into your own hands comes with a great risk. But when there is a great deal of evidence, it is important to consult with a legal professional. There is always the chance that evidence against you or a loved one was obtained illegally, but if you are not familiar with the laws and doctrines, you may not realize this is the case.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a legal matter, contact the professionals at the Khonsari Law Group today. Our team of legal professionals can help guide you through this trying time and can help defend your rights. To view all of our practice areas, click here, or call us today for a free consultation.