Exclusionary Rule EvaluationThe exclusionary rule is designed to serve as a sometimes harsh reminder for those working in the criminal justice system to follow the rules and not violate one’s rights. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors take great pride in their cases and doing their best to ensure justice is served. Losing a case for a simple mistake can be embarrassing and harmful to the community. One can image the frustration of losing a bowling ball to the gutter because one made a simple mistake in their form. The exclusionary rule works like a gutter ball in the sport of bowling. If law enforcement or the prosecutor violates one’s rights in the seizing of evidence they can chalk that particular piece of evidence up as a gutter ball. The may have another shot at the pins, but that shot will have to come from an entirely different ball (evidence).
Rationale and PurposeOften times entire cases are thrown out do the exclusionary rule. This can be a difficult concept for public to understand. Some would be upset that a violent criminal has been set free do to the exclusionary rule. However, the purpose of the exclusionary rule is to ensure criminal justice professionals, mainly law enforcement, acts appropriately when conducting investigations or making arrests. “Fewer than 1 in 100 criminal defendants goes free because the judge throws out evidence as illegally obtained, a small price to pay for the exclusionary rule, concluded a Tribune editorial. What The Tribune analysis did not consider is the much larger number of criminal charges that never reach trial, but are dropped or plea bargained because of the exclusionary rule” (Froehlich, 1986). The rule most be stanchly enforced to remind those who enforce the law just how valuable one’s rights are. This line of thinking falls directly into the due process model. Any leniency on this rule would be cause for a slippery slope in regards to other constitutional rights.
Exceptions to the Exclusionary RuleThe courts have made rulings to some exceptions to the exclusionary rule over the years. Some of these exemptions derive from Old English law, or common law. For instance a search warrant of one’s home can have several exemptions. “Several legal commentators writing when our country was founded agreed that this was the law at the time. The legendary William Blackstone said it best, that the sheriff may justify breaking open doors, if the possession be not quietly delivered” (3 Blackstone 412). According to Sir Matthew Hale, the “constant practice” at common law was that “the officer may break open the door, if he be sure the offender is there, if after acquainting them of the business, and demanding the prisoner, he refuses to open the door.” (David, Goodman, 2010). More current court rulings have resulted in more exemptions to the exclusionary rule, especially in the name of safety. “Other exceptions to the knock-and-announce requirement are permitted where persons within already know of officers’ authority and purpose; where officers are justified in belief that persons within are in imminent peril of bodily harm; where officers’ peril would have been increased by announcement; or where officers are justified in belief that escape or destruction of evidence is being attempted” (David, Goodman, 2010).
ConclusionThe exclusionary rule can be costly for community safety, the war on drugs, and general crime suppression. However, the cost is absolutely necessary to maintain the integrity of every citizen’s constitutional rights. The exclusionary rule also helps maintain a high level of honesty and integrity among criminal justice professionals. In comparison to other countries, America has some of the most honest and hardworking cops. This can be partly attributed to the exclusionary rule and the officers being reminded of how precious each citizen’s rights are. Leniency may be granted to individuals in whom District Attorneys find a grey area in how evidence was obtained. “In other cases, the prosecutor plea bargains serious charges down to minor charges because he is unsure police procedures will withstand judicial scrutiny” (Froehlich, 1986). The courts can make exemptions to the exclusionary rule when applying reason and carful thought to each circumstance presented; such as safety or the destruction of evidence. Ultimately, the exclusionary rule must be protected for the greater good.
ReferencesZalman M. (2011). Criminal Procedure: Constitution and Society (6th ed.). Retrievedfrom Zalman M., CJA/364 website.
University of Phoenix. (2010). The Search and Seizure Handbook, Third Edition. M. David D. Goodman. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, CJA/364 website.
Froehlich, P.D. (1986, January 20). The Exclusionary Rule and the Law. Chicago Tribune.