21/11/16 Antidotes (Cont. “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”)

Antidotes Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

There are exceptions to the fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine, meaning that some evidence may be admissible even though police came by it illegally. Courts use the terms “inevitable discovery” and “attenuated taint” to describe situations in which the government finds evidence illegally, but could have found it lawfully. In those instances, the evidence may be admissible.

Another example of the “attenuation doctrine” occurs where an officer doesn’t have a legitimate reason to stop someone but discovers that the person stopped has an outstanding arrest warrant. If the officer arrests and searches the person, there’s a good chance that any evidence the officer finds will be admissible in court.

Defendants’ Statements

Another important exception to the fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree rule involves statements by defendants. If officers beat a statement out of a defendant, both the statement and evidence it leads to are inadmissible. But if the defendant gives a statement voluntarily, albeit without the requisite Miranda warning, evidence the police locate because of that statement can come in at trial. It doesn’t matter that the statement itself is inadmissible—the poisoned fruit is nevertheless edible.