Course: Introduction / Policing / Procedural Law
The inevitable discovery exception is an exception to the exclusionary rule that allows illegally obtained evidence to be used in court if it would have been found legally anyway.
The inevitable discovery exception is an exception to the exclusionary rule, which states that evidence obtained through illegal means cannot be used in court. The inevitable discovery exception allows for illegally obtained evidence to be used in court if it would have been discovered legally anyway. This exception is based on the idea that the evidence would have been discovered regardless of the illegal means used to obtain it.
The inevitable discovery exception was first recognized by the Supreme Court in Nix v. Williams. In this case, the defendant had confessed to the murder of a young girl after being transported in a police car. The defendant’s attorney argued that the confession should be excluded from trial because it was obtained through an unconstitutional search and seizure. However, the Supreme Court held that the evidence would have been inevitably discovered during the course of the investigation and therefore was admissible in court.
The Court established certain criteria for the use of the inevitable discovery exception. In order for the exception to apply, the prosecution must demonstrate that the evidence would have been discovered through lawful means. This means that there must be an objective and demonstrable chain of events leading to the discovery of the evidence and that the discovery must have been “virtually certain” to occur. In addition, the Court has held that the prosecution must demonstrate that the discovery of the evidence was independent of the illegal means used to obtain it.
The use of the inevitable discovery exception has been the subject of ongoing debate and controversy. Critics argue that the exception can be used as a pretext to admit evidence that was obtained illegally and that it can encourage law enforcement officers to engage in unconstitutional searches and seizures. Supporters of the exception argue that it is a necessary tool for law enforcement in certain circumstances and that it helps to prevent the exclusion of evidence that would have been discovered legally anyway.
In recent years, the use of the inevitable discovery exception has been the subject of several high-profile cases. In 2016, for example, the Supreme Court heard the case of Utah v. Strieff, in which the Court held that evidence obtained during an unconstitutional stop and search could be admissible in court if it was discovered through an independent, lawful search. This decision was criticized by civil liberties advocates, who argued that it undermined the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
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Last Modified: 04/13/2023