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What is the fruit of the poisonous tree?

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

If the police are investigating you, it’s good to know about the fruit of the poisonous tree. This is a legal doctrine that offers you some protection in certain situations. It helps to hold the police accountable.

Essentially, the fruit of the poisonous tree is connected to the manner in which evidence is gathered. For the authorities, the order of operations is quite important. They must follow all steps and adhere to the restrictions and procedures within the law. If they do not do so, it can invalidate evidence that would otherwise have been quite important to your case.

Conducting an illegal search can produce unusable evidence

For example, imagine that the police believe you have illegal firearms in your home. They want to come into your home and search for those firearms. However, they don’t have a warrant for a search. When they ask for your consent to come inside, you deny it and tell them that they need to come back with a warrant. Unwilling to do so, the police officers simply detain you in the back of a squad car and search your home anyway.

What this means is that the police have now violated your Fourth Amendment rights. This poisons the tree to which the evidence is connected. Even if the police officers do go into your home and they do find the illegal firearms they were looking for, that does not justify this action. As a result, the court will exclude the findings of that search from the case. You can imagine how hard it is going to be for them to prove that you had illegal weapons when they are not allowed to use the weapons themselves as evidence.

This is just one example, but it shows you why procedures are so important and why you need to know about all of your legal options if the police have not taken the proper steps.