On July 5, 2016, defendant David Ramirez of Yolo County, California filed a motion to suppress evidence pursuant to CA Penal Code § 1538.5 through his attorney. Mr. Ramirez is charged with possessing a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia, both of which he has claimed was discovered during an illegal traffic stop. Back in January of 2016, Mr. Ramirez was a passenger in a car that was stopped for a cracked rear taillight. The deputies allegedly questioned all the passengers including Mr. Ramirez, and they were asked to be detained for a pat-down (frisk) search. The driver and front seat passenger consented and were searched, and nothing was found.
Mr. Ramirez however, did not consent to the search (and was well within his rights not to consent). The police further pushed and allegedly stated they were only looking for weapons. After Mr. Ramirez consented, the police then reportedly found a meth pipe, which was seized. Mr. Ramirez has argued that his search was unlawful, and the evidence resulting from the search must be suppressed under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, as detailed in People v. Williams (1988).
When Does the Exclusionary Rule Apply?
Pursuant to one’s constitutional rights in the 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments, evidence that is seized in violation of those rights may be suppressed from a criminal trial.
The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine
The fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine can be looked at as just a step further than the exclusionary rule. While the exclusionary rule excludes illegally seized evidence (directly from police illegality), this doctrine states that evidence that is derived from police illegality may also be suppressed.
This means, for example, that if an illegal interrogation leads to the discovery of physical evidence, both the interrogation and the physical evidence may be excluded. The illegal interrogation is excluded based on the exclusionary rule, while the evidence derived from the illegal interrogation is excluded from the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.
However, the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine has three important exemptions. Evidence will not be excluded:
- If it was discovered from a source independent of the illegal activity (ie. eyewitness);
- Its discovery was inevitable; or
- If the evidence would have been discovered by lawful means, such as a search warrant.
Chula Vista and San Diego County Constitutional Rights and Criminal Rights Lawyer
The Law Offices of David M. Boertje will staunchly defend your 4th, 5th, and 6th amendment rights. We handle all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases and will walk you through your case from arrest to trial and do our best to keep you out of jail. When you understand the potential consequences of a being charged with a crime, you will understand how important it is to work with an experienced attorney who knows the local courts and the rights you are afforded under the constitution. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, contact attorney David Boertje today. Consultations are free and confidential.