In this case, DEA was working with a confidential informant that led to information that made them believe that the defendant was involved in the distribution of drugs. Using the CI, the agents learned that the drugs were in the house. When they moved in (without a warrant) to arrest the occupants, they found methamphetamine in plain view. Subsequent to the arrests, a warrant was obtained to search the defendant’s house and evidence was seized.
The defendant sought to have the evidence excluded, arguing the initial warrantless entry was an unlawful search. The court acknowledged that the initial entry was a Fourth Amendment violation, but concluded that the requirements for the Independent Source Doctrine were met for the warrant application and therefore the exclusionary rule was not imposed.
Editor’s Note: This case is a good reminder that the purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter police misconduct and the exclusionary rule will not always be imposed for a Fourth Amendment violation. As a Senior Legal Instructor at FLETC, I was not a big fan of teaching all the exceptions to the exclusionary rule to LEOs because it would often make them think it was okay to commit Fourth Amendment violations in certain situations. Actually, the opposite is true. If a prosecutor is making an argument for an exclusionary rule exception, he or she is “against the ropes” trying to save the evidence. The Fourth Amendment violation has already been conceded at that point! If you make proper Fourth Amendment decisions, you will never need to worry about the exceptions to the exclusionary rule.
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