exclusionary rules – rules that exclude or suppress evidence obtained via unreasonable search and seizure:

     This page is continued from Criminal Law Self-Help >>>> Preliminary Hearing or Grand jury Proceeding >>>> Pretrial Discovery (criminal):


exclusionary rule:

1. Evidence. Any rule that excludes or suppresses evidence <despite many exceptions, hearsay has long been inadmissible under an exclusionary rule>. — aka exclusionary evidence rule

2. Criminal procedure. A rule that excludes or suppresses evidence obtained in violation of an accused person’s constitutional rights <in accordance with the exclusionary rule, the court did not admit the drugs into evidence because they had been obtained during a warrantiess search of the defendant’s home>.

     Excerpt from Wayne R. LaFave and Jerold H. Israel, Criminal Procedure (2d ed. 1992) (quoting Elkins v. U.S., 364 U.S. 206, 80 S.Ct. 1437 (1960); U.S. v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 94 S.Ct. 613 (1974) (dissent)):

     “The deterrence of unreasonable searches and seizures is a major purpose of the exclusionary rule. . . . But the rule serves other purposes as well. There is, for example, . . . ‘the imperative of judicial integrity,’ namely, that the courts do not become ‘accomplices in willful disobedience of a Constitution they are sworn to uphold.’ . . . A third purpose of the exclusionary rule . . . is that of ‘assuring the people — all potential victims of unlawful government conduct — that the government would not profit from its lawless behavior, thus minimizing the risk of seriously undermining popular trust in the government. [4]

1. The rule of constitutional law that evidence secured by the police by means of an unreasonable search and seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, cannot be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution. [3]

Various Exclusionary Rules:

fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine – evidence derived from an illegal search, arrest, or interrogation is inadmissible because the evidence (the “fruit”) was tainted by the illegality (the “poisonous tree”). — aka fruits doctrine.

inevitable-discovery rule – evidence obtained indirectly from an illegal search is admissible, and the illegality is harmless, if the evidence would have been obtained nevertheless in the ordinary course of police work. — aka inevitable-discovery doctrine; inevitable-disclosure doctrine.

  • primary-evidence rule – when evidence sought in an illegal search is seized during that search, the inevitable-discovery doctrine does not apply.


     In England, “Exclusionary Rule” was the term for for what is now called the “No-Recourse Rule”:

no-recourse rule:

1. The traditional common-law rule barring recourse to legislative history as an aid in statutory interpretation.  *  The rule was first announced in the famous copyright case of Millar v. Taylor: “The sense and meaning of an Act of Parliament must be collected from what it says when passed into a law; and not from the history of changes it underwent in the house where it took its rise.  That history is not known to the other house, or to the Sovereign.” [1769] 4 Burr. 2303, 2332, 98 Eng. Rep. 201, 217 (K.B.).  The no-recourse rule was well accepted in the 18th-century America and was not seriously eroded until the mid-20th century.
See Hans W. Baade, “Original Intent” in Historical Perspective: Some Critical Glasses, 69 Tex. L. ev. 1001, 1010-11 (1991). — aka nonrecourse rule; no-legislative-history rule; (BrE) exclusionary rule. [1]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: [4]: Wayne R. LaFave & Jerold H. Israel, Criminal Procedure 5 3.1, at 107 (2d ed. 1992) (quoting Elkins v. U.S., 364 U.S. 206, 80 S.Ct. 1437 (1960); U.S. v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 94 S.Ct. 613 (1974) (dissent)).


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