Inevitable Discovery Doctrine

INEVITABLE DISCOVERY DOCTRINE

The remedy for addressing police illegality is the suppression of the evidence found as a result of the illegality. This is known as the exclusionary rule. This remedy was thought to be necessary because other remedies, civil monetary relief or criminal prosecution of the offending officer was not effective in deterring police misconduct. The idea is if a police officer knows that evidence obtained illegally cannot be used at trial, the officer will be deterred from violating an individual’s rights. The exclusionary rule is designed to deter police misconduct.

The Inevitable Discovery Doctrine is an exception to the exclusionary rule. The Inevitable Discovery Doctrine holds that evidence obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights is admissible in court if the prosecution can established by a preponderance of the evidence that normal police investigation would have inevitably led to the discovery of the evidence. The doctrine was adopted first by the United States Supreme Court in Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431 (1984) The Supreme Court ruled the principle behind the exclusionary rule should not apply to evidence that would be found through lawful means creating the Inevitable Discovery Doctrine as an exception to exclusionary rule.

For example, the police validly stop you but search you without the requisite level of probable cause to make the search permissible under the United States and Maine Constitutions. The police discover illegals drugs in your pants pockets during the illegal search. The police after finding the drugs arrest you and run your name. The police learn upon running your name that there is a warrant for arrest. You are then charged with Unlawful Possession of Illegal Drugs and your attorney moves to suppress the drugs from being used against you at trial. The grounds for the motion is the search is illegal because the police officer doing the search did not have the requisite level of probable cause. The court will permit the use of the drugs at trial finding the stop was valid and since you had a warrant out for your arrest the police would inevitably discover the drugs as a search incident to arrest. If you did not have a warrant out for your arrest the court would have prohibited the prosecution from using the drugs at trial since the police lacked probable cause to search you.

I hope this post assist you in understanding the exclusionary rule and the inevitable discovery doctrine. If you are charged with a crime call my office today for a free initial consultation.

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