Law Essay on Search and Seizure

Published: 2021-06-23
954 words
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8 min to read
Middlebury College
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The fruit of the poisonous tree refers to the legal metaphor in the United States which describes that if the evidence is obtained with the assistance of illegal information, then such evidence should be exempted during the trial. The logic assumes that if the source which is referred to as the tree of proof or evidence is compromised or tainted, then anything that is gained from that "tree" known as the "fruit" will also be tainted. Research shows that the fruit of poisonous tree doctrine was first discussed in the Silverthorne Lumber Co.v. The United States in the year 1920 (Albin, 2003). Furthermore, it is known that the term was the first use by Justice Felix Frankfurter during the case of Nordone versus the United States of America in the year 1939. In law, the tainted evidence is not admissible in the court of law (Elkin, 2010). The doctrine holds that the evidence which is gathered through illegal assistance needs to be excluded from the trial. Therefore, when an illegal interrogation leads to the discovery of the physical evidence then, then the physical evidence and investigation might be excluded because of the exclusionary rule. Such evidence will be referred to as the "fruit" of illegal interrogation.

There are three essential exceptions in the fruit of the poisonous tree and describes that the evidence should be excluded if there is proof that it was obtained through illegal means. Furthermore, the evidence will also be excluded if there is proof that the evidence was inevitable. Additionally, it is also banned if it is found out that there was attenuation of the illegal activity and the discovery of such evidence. An example is when a police officer is found to have conducted a search of a home through unconstitutional means and has found the key to a train station store locker (Elkin, 2010). Thus, it will be assumed that the evidence of the criminal activity came from the locker, and such evidence risks being excluded under the poisonous tree legal doctrine. However, the doctrine might also allow some evidence to be admitted in the court of law when there is a link between the illegal evidence and the crime that was executed. For instance, it is argued that a witness who voluntarily and freely testifies provides an intervening factor that might sufficiently "attenuate" the connection between the crime and the evidence of the offense happening.

The Fourth Amendment of the American Constitution is important for protecting the citizens from seizures and searches which are deemed unreasonable by the police officers. For the law enforcement officer to be allowed to conduct a search warrant, he or she should have a valid permit which is issued by the judge (Roberson, 2016). The search warrant allows the law enforcement officers to conduct a seizure and search of the specific locations and items. However, for the law enforcement officers to be provided with a valid search warrant, such an officer needs to demonstrate probable cause that the crime was committed and that there is a likelihood of obtaining the missing items in the specified location.

For a warrant to be considered valid, it must meet the following requirements. Firstly, the warrant must be filed in good faith by the police officer. Also, the warrant should be based on information that is reliable and shows the probable cause of the search. Furthermore, the warrant must be obtained from a magistrate that is neutral and detached (Roberson, 2016). What is more, the order needs to state the specific location and place where the search and seizure will be conducted.

Ideally, the law enforcement officers must first of all knock and announce their identity and intention of their search. After the knock and announcement of the intention, such officers must wait for a reasonable amount of time to allow the occupant to open the door for them (Elkin, 2010). However, the police may force entry when they have waited for a reasonable amount of time, and the occupant does not seem to open the door.

The administrative searches involve a situation where the probable cause is not so strict, but the criminal investigation must be conducted for the case to be ruled and concluded. It is important because, in particular, situations, the warrant is required and thus should be reasonably obtained (Albin, 2003). On the other hand, regulatory searches refer to the repository of retail-relevant federal and state environmental regulations that can undergo filtering by the retail department or even the federal and state jurisdiction.

The expectation of privacy is very essential for the distinguishing of reasonable and legitimate police seizures and searches. According to the plain view doctrine searches, the warrant requirement enables the law enforcement officers to observe and recognize the evidence immediately through contraband that is legally accepted. The expectation of consent involves an acceptance of activity with the agreement that the accused persons are over the age of eighteen years and understand what is happening in the case (Albin, 2003). The expectation of abandonment in law refers to the discontinuation of a particular case when there is a lack of enough proof or evidence that the criminal activity occurred.

The Fourth Amendment applies to the United States of American Constitution that protects the citizens from the seizures and searches which are known to be unreasonable from the side of the law enforcement officers (Roberson, 2016). Unreasonable searches or seizures refer to the types of searches that are executed by the police who do not have a valid warrant and also do not fall under the exception to the requirements of the order.


Albin, K. (2003). Warrant of arrest. Oswiecim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Elkin, S. (2010). Searches and seizures. New York: Open Road Integrated Media.

Roberson, C. (2016). Constitutional law and criminal justice.


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