There are rules in every society that guide people live their life in harmony with one another. However, these rules may not be acceptable to every one. Therefore, this write up is focused on the exclusionary rule applied in the United States of America. It discusses in details the rationale and the purpose of this rule, the exceptions to this rule, its costs and benefits, and the alternative remedies to this rule.
The exclusionary rule is the U.S. court rule, which has been put into practice since 1914. It is stipulated in the fourth amendment, which protects individuals’ constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police officers or other law enforcement personnel. Under this rule, any evidences obtained as a result of unacceptable ways of search is ruled void and, therefore, not used for trial of the defendant (Amar, 2007). However, it has to be proved that the means used by a particular police officer is unlawful. For the exclusionary rule to apply an illegal action by the police officer or the agent of the police involved must have occurred, there must also have been unreasonable seizure of the evidence, and lastly there must be a link between the police illegal actions and the evidence unreasonably found (Siege, 2010).
Rationale and Purpose
This rule aims at making the police use the acceptable means of obtaining evidence from suspected criminals. Therefore, it places a requirement on the police departments to train their officers on legally acceptable ways of obtaining evidence from suspected law breaking citizens (Amar, 2007). He notes that it was also created with a purpose to protect suspected criminals from overzealous police officers or the police department agents. This would prevent harassment of the citizens suspected of criminality by the police officers or the other law enforcers.
Amar (2007) also observed that in order to uphold the integrity of the courts, the police had to be stopped from irresponsible act by letting them practice responsible behaviors when doing their work. This is achieved by letting their work go in vain in case they use non acceptable ways in conducting search to the suspected law breakers. Through this, the citizens could develop trust with their law enforcers. Finally, Frase & Sullivian (2009) noted that the supreme courts created this rule so that the unreasonable cases could not be taken in courts. Therefore, this was meant to allow time being spent on serious cases which had valuable evidence.
Exceptions to Exclusionary Rule
Even though this rule applies on unreasonable searches and seizers by the police, there are some circumstances when evidence obtained through such means can be acceptable by the courts in the U.S. (Siege, 2010). The circumstances include a situation when the police had an independent source of idea of the evidence besides the successes of the unacceptable methods used to carry out the search. In such a situation the rule will not exclude the evidence obtained. Additionally Frase & Sullivian (2009) also noted that in a case where the tracking of the evidence was inevitable, the evidence may be acceptable since it had not been obtained as a result of the illegal search. However, the court has to establish and be convinced that the police would have got the evidence with or without the unreasonable research.
Siege (2010) finally notes that it has to be confirmed by the courts that the police must have acted in faith and with no intention of malice or defraud at the time when the evidence was obtained.
Costs of the Exclusionary Rule
The exclusionary rule, however, has some negative implications for the society (Siege, 2010). These negative outcomes include such problems as escape of the charges by the criminals. The police may try their best to obtain evidence but if it is discovered by the courts that it was a result of unreasonable search that the evidence was obtained, such evidences are excluded from the trial. This may, therefore, lead to even some very genuine evidence ruled as untrue and, hence, dropping the charges of real criminals.
Frase & Sullivian (2009) also note that the police have become less effective in tracking criminals. This is because the police have limited the number of tactics available for them in tracking criminals down. Equally, Carmen (2010) notes that the rule can also be a contributing factor to the delays in the administration of justice. This is due to the room created for bargaining whether the evidence was obtained lawfully by the police or not. It will have to take some time before the courts can establish the truth and, hence, delay and piling up of cases.
Carmen (2010) noted that the rule has also been associated with the present increase in the rate of crime. These cases of crime are results of this rule since the police will always be very cautious to an extent of neglecting their work just to ensure that they do not break the law. The criminals will, therefore, take advantage of this loop hole by the police. In addition, the rule is also associated with the loss of value. According to Amar (2007), this results from the fact that it may take a long duration before being issued with a search warrant. This may deny the police an opportunity to catch up with the criminals when they are still within the U.S. jurisdiction and also when the evidence can be obtained.
Amar (2007) also identifies the increase in cheating cases by the police as another notable consequence of this rule. The police may cheat in order to escape the legal consequences of unreasonable search and seizing of a citizen. This will be an unfair treatment to the defendant who will then face the consequences innocently. Finally, Carmen (2010) observes that an individual’s right may still be violated since this rule is only applicable when a case goes to trial. Suppose an individual who had been harassed by a police officer is not taken to court, then the damages suffered by him or her are not compensated.
Benefits of Exclusionary Rule
Irrespective of such costs, this rule has also benefited the society in a number of ways. First, it has limited cases of the police intrusion into other peoples’ property without permission when carrying out search. This is because the police would not want their work to go in vain by being declared illegally conducted (Carmen (2010). Additionally, the rule has also led to the professionalism in the police department since the department has taken the initiative of training their police officers on the legal ways and tactics of handling criminal activities (Amar, 2007).
Another notable benefit is the demonstration of the commitment to the Constitution by the courts, since the citizens properties are protected from intrusion by the police during their criminal investigation. Additionally, the rule has helped to ensure justice to those who are falsely arrested by the police since evidence has to be ascertained by the courts if the steps leading to arrest were undertaken in the unacceptable manner (Carmen, 2010).
Moreover, the rule has enabled the accessibility of search warrants by the police. Since the police cannot do the search without the warrants, a simple way of obtaining them has been developed. This has eased that work of the police during the investigation of criminal activities (Frase & Sullivian 2009). Finally, even though the police can search or arrest someone as a result of unreasonable search, the efforts are not in vain even if the defendant is left free. This is because the police would have made some progress by raising an alarm over such a person and eventually a search warrant can be obtained against him (Frase & Sullivian 2009).
Alternative Remedies to the Exclusionary Rule
Instead of ruling out the evidence obtained by the police as an acceptable, there are a number of courses of action that can be applied by the courts to provide justice for both, the defendant and the police. These alternative courses of action include that of taking civil actions against the police officers or the responsible police department agents. Therefore, this means that the defendants will be trialed for the alleged actions irrespective of the manner in which the evidence was obtained. At the same time, the responsible police officers are also charged for unlawfully obtaining criminal evidence.
It is also noted by Frase & Sullivian (2009) that this rule can be avoided by strengthening the disciplinary procedures within the police department. This will be effective since the police will be aware of the consequences of taking an illegal action and, hence, discipline in all their activities. Finally, Carmen (2010) identifies the improvement in the police training as another possible remedy to this rule. This is because additional training of the police will enable them to always be aware of the rules pertaining to their work and so they will not have to carry out search to people in non- acceptable manners.
In conclusion, it is clear that even though the U.S. exclusionary rule is in practice, it is subject to a lot of criticisms. This write up has come up with the various views by different people on the applicability of this rule. The analysis of the various opinions makes it apparent that the rule cannot favor every one at the same time and equally. In my opinion, this rule should not be applied since it creates fear among the police who are always very careful not to make mistakes. The police may also develop negative attitude and, hence, neglect to do their work diligently since they face the risk of becoming victims of law breaking.