Your Appeal Is Your Last Best Chance To Right A Wrong

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Fruit of the poisonous tree and the right to an appeal

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2024 | Federal Appeals

Defendants who take their criminal cases to trial often feel very strongly about the need to prove their innocence. They believe that the courts should exonerate them after a review of the situation. However, police officers and prosecutors often do their best to build a strong legal case against those accused of breaking the law.

Those who expect to prevail in criminal court sometimes end up convicted because prosecutors use evidence obtained in questionable circumstances. If prosecutors violated evidentiary rules, that could pave the way for a criminal appeal. For example, a lawyer could claim that there was a violation of someone’s rights and that certain key evidence was fruit of the poisonous tree.

What does fruit of the poisonous tree mean?

There are many federal regulations that effectively limit the behavior of police officers. Police officers generally need to follow the law and respect the rights of individuals even when they believe that someone has done something illegal.

Unfortunately, the eagerness to secure a conviction might lead to police officers breaking the law themselves or violating someone’s civil rights. Evidence obtained through misconduct is fruit of the poisonous tree, and there have been major court rulings affirming that the use of such evidence is a violation of a defendant’s rights.

This phrase refers to how the evidence obtained illegally can damage or poison an entire criminal case. Defense attorneys can sometimes exclude certain evidence from criminal proceedings by showing that police officers did something inappropriate to gather that evidence.

Why evidence issues can lead to an appeal

Constitutional rights protecting people from inappropriate searches and other intrusions by the state can affect initial criminal trials and may also lead to successful appeals. In scenarios where a lawyer failed to make such claims during the initial trial or where misconduct came to white after the criminal proceedings, inappropriately obtained evidence could be grounds for an appeal.

The appellate courts can potentially review the situation and determine if there is any validity to the claim that evidence used by the prosecution should not have played a role in the criminal proceedings. A successful appeal could make a major difference for someone who endured a violation of their rights.

Defendants who recognize when state authorities have violated their rights may be in a better position to respond appropriately to criminal charges or a recent criminal conviction by filing an appeal. Learning more about the limits on state evidence may benefit those questioning how police officers acted or how prosecutors secured a conviction.