When you find yourself facing prosecution for allegedly committing a crime, one of the most important things you need to understand is the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine and how it protects you and your rights.
Per information from FindLaw, this doctrine works in tandem with the exclusionary rule. Together, they represent two of your most fundamental rights.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine
By itself, this doctrine refers to any evidence that law enforcement officers illegally obtain against you (poisonous tree), as well as any additional evidence (fruit) they obtain as a result of their initial illegal act.
This second prong requires a judge to exclude any evidence against you that law enforcement officers obtained illegally, such as without a proper warrant. In other words, no such evidence can come into court or used as a basis to convict you.
Both the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine and the exclusionary rule flow from the rights guaranteed to you by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Thus, you can rest assured that all three of these safeguards form a crucial part of the U.S. criminal justice system and protect you from any form of overzealous or improper law enforcement evidence gathering.