Pros and Cons of Exclusionary Rule


What is the exclusionary rule? It is a set of guidelines which dictate how and when evidence can be used against someone in a court of law in the United States. Having this outline allows law enforcement to properly collect evidence at a crime scene, process it for clues, and introduce it against someone during trial. In return, those charged with a crime have a fair way of making sure the evidence is not manipulated or collected improperly so that is would negatively influence a jury.

What Are the Pros of the Exclusionary Rule?

1. It protects people against unnecessary search and seizure.
The key term here is “unnecessary.” In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, law enforcement officers went from home to home without warrants to search for their suspect. Had evidence been found of other crime because of this, the exclusionary rule would have prevented many from having items used against them.

2. It establishes innocence before guilt.
The justice system in the US presumes someone is innocent. They must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be guilty. The system fails from time to time, but overall the exclusionary rule helps to put the odds more in the defendants favor.

3. It stops the manufacturing of false evidence.
A clear chain of command must be established in order for evidence to be admitted against an individual. Without the exclusionary rule, it would be possible for law enforcement, or anyone else, to create false evidence to be submitted that could put innocent people behind bars.

What Are the Cons of the Exclusionary Rule?

1. It is only applied to criminal cases.
Because the exclusionary rule isn’t actually part of the Constitution, it is used as a principle of criminal law only. Civil matters do not have the same protections. It is possible to sue someone for $1 million over a barking dog and be awarded a judgment if the a response to the summons is not made.

2. It allows guilty people to go free.
Although the exclusionary rule helps the innocent, it also helps the guilty. If law enforcement officials make a mistake in the collection of evidence or there are gaps in the chain of command, then the evidence may not be able to be submitted and that could cause a jury to come back with a not guilty verdict.

3. It adds cost to the criminal justice system.
With added regulations come added costs. Because there are extensive rules that must be followed, taxpayers have to foot the bill for these procedures and this is money that could potentially be spent elsewhere.

The pros and cons of the exclusionary rule show that for every advantage, there is also a disadvantage to consider. Is it important to give the innocent a better chance to go free at the expense of a few guilty parties doing so as well? The answer to that question will indicate which side of the debate each person falls on.