Impact of the Exclusionary Rule on Federal Criminal Prosecutions

GGD-79-45: Published: Apr 19, 1979. Publicly Released: May 8, 1979.

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The impact of the exclusionary rule on criminal prosecution was studied. In general, this rule prohibits the introduction of evidence seized in violation of the fourth amendment, unreasonable searches and seizures.

Of the 2,804 cases analyzed, 16 percent of the defendants whose cases were accepted for prosecution filed some type of suppression motion; 11 percent cited the fourth amendment. However, only .4 percent of declined defendants' cases were declines due to fourth amendment search and seizure problems. The filing of fourth amendment suppression motions, even those not formally filed in court, required expenditure of criminal justice system resources. The resources expended were modest when compared with the total resources used in the criminal justice system. Fourth amendment motions, when granted in total or in part, did appear to reduce the likelihood of the defendant being convicted.

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