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Exclusionary rule

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The exclusionary rule is a legal principle in the United States, under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which holds that evidence collected or analyzed in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights is sometimes inadmissible in a criminal trial. This may be considered an example of a prophylactic rule formulated by the judiciary in order to protect a constitutional right. However, in some circumstances at least, the exclusionary rule may also be considered to follow directly from the constitutional language, such as the Fifth Amendment's command that no person "shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself" and that no person "shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law."

The exclusionary rule is intended to protect citizens from illegal searches and seizures. The exclusionary rule is also designed to provide a remedy and disincentive, which is short of criminal prosecution in response to prosecutors and police who illegally gather evidence in violation of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The exclusionary rule also applies to violations of the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the right to counsel.

{{Quote|[T]he rule's prime purpose is to deter future unlawful police conduct and thereby effectuate the guarantee of the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures: “The rule is calculated to prevent, not to repair. Its purpose is to deter — to compel respect for the constitutional guaranty in the only effectively available way — by removing the incentive to disregard it. United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 347 (1974) (quoting Linkletter v. Walker, 381 U.S. 618, 637 (1965)).

This rule is occasionally referred to as a "legal technicality" because it allows the defendant a defense that does not address the merits of the case, i.e., whether the crime was actually committed.

The exclusionary rule applies to all persons within the United States, regardless of whether they are citizens, immigrants (legal or illegal) or visitors.

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