Fruit of the Poisoned Tree Doctrine | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Procedural Law

The Fruit of the Poisoned Tree Doctrine is a legal principle that excludes evidence obtained illegally or through a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights from being used as evidence in a criminal trial. The doctrine is based on the principle that evidence that is obtained as a result of illegally obtained evidence or as a direct or indirect result of a constitutional violation is tainted and should not be used to incriminate a defendant.

The Fruit of the Poisoned Tree Doctrine is a principle that is derived from the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. The doctrine states that any evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure is inadmissible in court and any evidence derived from that illegally obtained evidence. This is sometimes referred to as the “exclusionary rule.”

For example, if the police conduct a search without a warrant or probable cause and find drugs, the drugs would be considered the “fruit” of the “poisoned tree” of the illegal search and would be inadmissible in court. Similarly, if an individual confesses to a crime due to an illegal police interrogation, the confession would be considered the “fruit” of the “poisoned tree” of the illegal interrogation and would not be admissible as evidence.


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Last Modified: 01/11/2023

 

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