Course: Introduction / Policing
Weeks v. United States (1914) is a landmark SCOTUS decision that established the exclusionary rule in federal courts.
It was not until the court’s decision in Mapp v. Ohio (1961) that the Court applied the rule to the states.
Weeks v. United States (1914) is a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the exclusionary rule, which holds that evidence obtained through an unconstitutional search or seizure is inadmissible in a criminal trial. The case arose when police officers, without a warrant or consent, searched the home of Fremont Weeks, a suspected bootlegger, and seized papers that were used as evidence against him in a federal court.
Weeks argued that the evidence obtained through the warrantless search was inadmissible in court, as it violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the Fourth Amendment applied to federal law enforcement officers and that evidence obtained through an unconstitutional search or seizure could not be used in a criminal trial. The Court reasoned that the exclusionary rule was necessary to deter law enforcement officials from engaging in unconstitutional searches and seizures and to protect individuals from government overreach.
The decision in Weeks v. United States had a significant impact on the criminal justice system, as it established the exclusionary rule as a fundamental principle of constitutional law. However, the rule was not applied to state courts until the Supreme Court’s decision in Mapp v. Ohio (1961). In Mapp, the Court held that the exclusionary rule was applicable to state courts through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Today, the exclusionary rule remains an important tool for protecting individual rights and promoting police accountability. It serves as a check on law enforcement officials who might otherwise be tempted to engage in unconstitutional searches and seizures and helps to ensure that criminal trials are conducted fairly and justly. While the rule has been the subject of ongoing debate and criticism, it remains a cornerstone of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.
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Last Modified: 04/13/2023