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How Does the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine Work?

 Posted on May 31, 2023 in Criminal Law

joliet criminal defense lawyerPolice can violate your Fourth Amendment rights in an Illinois criminal case when they conduct an illegal search or seizure. The remedy for violating these Constitutional rights is that some evidence may be suppressed and is not able to be used in your case. A court will throw out evidence that is considered the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” A Will County criminal defense attorney can review your case and determine whether to challenge any of the evidence at trial

Courts Will Apply an Exclusionary Rule

If a court determines that a search or seizure was illegal, they will not necessarily dismiss the case against you entirely. Instead, the prosecutor would need to proceed without using the illegally acquired evidence. Functionally, it could mean that the prosecutor would need to dismiss their case because they cannot prove it. For example, if drug charges against you depend on drugs that were seized in an illegal search, the prosecutor may not have any other evidence to use.

The Illegal Search Must Be Related to the Evidence Seized

The court would look to see if there is a causal relationship between the search and the evidence that is being challenged. This rule applies not just to the direct evidence, but any evidence that was seized as a result of the search. For example, if the wrongfully taken evidence leads police to other evidence, it would all be suppressed. The poisonous tree is the wrongful search, and the fruit is evidence that resulted from the tree.

The Rule Is Not Absolute in Every Case

There are exceptions that would still allow the prosecutor to use evidence in spite of an illegal search. One common exception to the doctrine is when police had an independent source to access the evidence other than the wrongful search. The court may also allow the evidence when there is a weak connection between the search and the evidence. Another exception is when police would have inevitably discovered the evidence. You can expect the prosecutor to have a backup argument about why the evidence should still be admissible.

Contact a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney Today

The Joliet criminal defense attorneys at Reeder & Brown, P.C. will aggressively defend you in your case, using every possible defense. A lawyer will review all evidence in your case to determine whether it can be challenged. To get legal help, call us today at 815-885-5980


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