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The importance of the fruit of the poisonous tree

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you’re facing criminal charges, one important doctrine to understand is known as the fruit of the poisonous tree. This can help to define how evidence can be used – or how it cannot be used – in your case.

Essentially, this doctrine views all of the evidence as part of the same tree. That tree starts with the way that the evidence was gathered. When the police have made mistakes or broken regulations about how they collected the evidence, then all of that evidence becomes “poisoned.” This may mean that the evidence itself cannot be used in court, even though it would otherwise have been applicable to the case.

Conducting an illegal home search

One way that this could happen is if the police conduct an illegal search of your home. Say that you did not give them consent to enter the house and they do not have a search warrant. However, they force their way inside of your home anyway and begin looking around. 

During this search, they find illegal drugs or other evidence of criminal activity. If they had obtained that evidence properly, it would be enough to convict you when the trial went to court. But since they violated your rights at the beginning and should never have been in your home to start with, then all of that evidence becomes poisoned. This could mean that a conviction is impossible because the police lose the only evidence that they actually have.

As you can see, this could be incredibly important to your case, and that’s why it’s so important to understand the legal options at your disposal.