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Research Papers on Alternatives to the Exclusionary Rule

Criminal justice students are often requested to debate the exclusionary rule. A research paper on the alternatives to the exclusionary rule is an excellent way to illustrate that you understand the law and how it relates to criminal justice issues. Allow Paper Masters to write your custom research paper on the exclusionary rule and the possible alternatives to it.

A number of alternatives to the exclusionary rule have been proposed by legal scholars. Following the Weeks decision, the possibility of filing criminal charges against a law enforcement official that willfully violated the constitutional right of others to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was offered as an option by John Wigmore. This argument for a research paper on alternatives to the Exclusionary Rule suggest that the exclusion of evidence that could convict a criminal was too high a price for society to pay in order to protect Fourth Amendment rights. Your research paper should also indicate that a direct sanction against a police officer would be more likely to deter the misconduct than a rule that creates no significant burden on the individual engaging in the misconduct other than the potential for an administrative sanction from superiors.

Following Mapp, the proposed alternatives to the exclusionary rule focused on sanctions against the perpetrator of the misconduct, but were less draconic that Wigmore’s proposal for considering the violation a criminal act. The more modern approach to alternatives focuses on tort remedies in lieu of exclusion of the evidence, with the defendant in a criminal trial able to bring a civil action against the police officers that engaged the misconduct. This approach contends that the possibility of civil damages functions as a deterrence for police misconduct by placing the burden of the misconduct on the perpetrator rather than on society at large by allowing a criminal to escape punishment. The objections to this approach contend that the police officer is likely to be indemnified by the administrative agency. In addition, the approach does not address the concern articulated in Mapp that allowing the introduction of improperly procured evidence would involve the courts in collusion to violate the Fourth Amendment.

Another proposal is to use administrative sanctions against the police officer that engages in the misconduct such as suspension without pay or dismissal from employment in the most egregious cases. Implementation of this proposal, however, requires that each jurisdiction develop and enforce a sanctions framework that could result in a high degree of variability among jurisdictions. In practice, the ability of the sanctions to function as a deterrent would depend on the level of sanctions and the way in which the sanctions were implemented. The courts do not favor this option because it is likely to limit the ability of the judiciary to supervise Fourth Amendment protections, and places responsibility for supervision on the legislative and executive branches of government.

Alternatives to the Exclusionary Rule

Exclusionary Rule

The statistical data since the extension of the exclusionary rule to the states as a result of Mapp indicates the following:

  1. The exclusionary rule is functioning as a deterrent to violations of the Fourth Amendment which reduces the validity of the arguments against the use of the rule.
  2. The percentage of successful motions to suppress evidence is relatively low when compared to the total number of criminal cases in the court system.
  3. The majority of motions to suppress occur in non-violent crimes such as seizures of evidence in drug cases.
  4. In practical applications, the greater the importance of the case in terms of the type of charge, the greater the attention of the police to meeting all constitutional requirements for the seizure of evidence.

From this perspective, the adoption of an alternative method of enforcing Fourth Amendment protections against improper search and seizure runs the risk of not being as effective as the exclusionary rule.

The extension of the exclusionary rule to the states that occurred as a result of the Mapp decision has resulted in significant criticism of the exclusionary rule methodology as the means to protect Fourth Amendment rights. The rule functionally provides a benefit to a criminal due to police misconduct, which is an approach that varies significant from common law traditions in which police were sanctioned for improper excesses. The current rationale for the rule as primarily a deterrent varies significantly from the alternative rationales that have been proposed in the past such as the Boyd self-incrimination rationale or the desire to prevent the extension of the police misconduct into the courtroom, which was articulated in Mapp.

The large number of exceptions that the Court has established to govern the functioning of the rule indicates that the concern is to maintain a balance between the deterrent effect of the exclusionary rule to prevent violations of the Fourth Amendment search and seizure clause and the social interest in insuring that juries have access to all probative evidence when determining the guilt or innocence of a defendant. Because the statistical data suggests that the implementation of the exclusionary rule at the state level that resulted from Mapp has resulted in the issuance of a greater number of warrants and a relatively small percentage of evidence suppression hearings, it appears to have largely achieved its purpose. The exceptions apply to situations in which the use of the exclusionary rule would not result in the deterrence of police misconduct. These factors indicate that the Supreme Court is unlikely to substantially alter the exclusionary rule in the future, although it may determine that additional exceptions are necessary

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