One legal doctrine that you may want to understand if you are facing criminal allegations is the fruit of the poisonous tree. This doctrine can impact how evidence is used in your case. In some cases, it can mean that evidence that otherwise would’ve been included in the prosecution’s case has to be excluded by the court, which may be a reality that proves favorable to your defense.
The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine is the idea that evidence gathered through illegal means can’t be used in court. Once an illegal action has been taken, if it leads to the discovery of evidence, the evidence itself may not be permissible. This doesn’t change the fact that the evidence pertains to the case or may be incriminating. But it changes what can be brought to the court’s attention, which can have a drastic impact on whether or not someone is ultimately found guilty.
Conducting an illegal search
One example of this scenario could play out if the police enter your home without your consent and without a warrant. Except in very rare emergency situations, doing so is illegal. While inside your home, during their illegal search, say that the police find evidence of a crime. This could be money they think you obtained illegally, firearms you shouldn’t have owned, illegal drugs, etc.
In a normal case, where the police follow procedures properly, discovering incriminating evidence could be enough to convict you all on its own. But the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine insists that because they never should have been inside your home in the first place and they never should have found that evidence, it should be excluded from consideration at trial. Essentially, because they violated your rights, they have to exclude the evidence they found from the case. In a lot of situations, this means that a conviction is all but impossible because the prosecution can rarely make its case without hard evidence.
Moving forward with defense options
Criminal cases can be very complex, and it’s important to understand exactly what procedures have to be followed. If you believe your rights have been violated, then you’ll want to discuss this with your attorney while you’re strategizing your legal defense options.